Advertisement

Demography

pp 1–24 | Cite as

Immigrant Legal Status and Health: Legal Status Disparities in Chronic Conditions and Musculoskeletal Pain Among Mexican-Born Farm Workers in the United States

  • Erin R. Hamilton
  • Jo Mhairi Hale
  • Robin Savinar
Article

Abstract

Immigrant legal status determines access to the rights and privileges of U.S. society. Legal status may be conceived of as a fundamental cause of health, producing a health disparity whereby unauthorized immigrants are disadvantaged relative to authorized immigrants, a perspective that is supported by research on legal status disparities in self-rated health and mental health. We conducted a systematic review of the literature on legal status disparities in physical health and examined whether a legal status disparity exists in chronic conditions and musculoskeletal pain among 17,462 Mexican-born immigrants employed as farm workers in the United States and surveyed in the National Agricultural Workers Survey between 2000 and 2015. We found that unauthorized, Mexican-born farm workers have a lower incidence of chronic conditions and lower prevalence of pain compared with authorized farm workers. Furthermore, we found a legal status gradient in health whereby naturalized U.S. citizens report the worst health, followed by legal permanent residents and unauthorized immigrants. Although inconsistent with fundamental cause theory, our results were robust to alternative specifications and consistent with a small body of existing research on legal status disparities in physical health. Although it is well known that Mexican immigrants have better-than-expected health outcomes given their social disadvantage, we suggest that an epidemiologic paradox may also apply to within-immigrant disparities by legal status. We offer several explanations for the counterintuitive result.

Keywords

Health Immigration Legal status Mexico–United States Farm workers 

Notes

Acknowledgments

We gratefully acknowledge support from the Western Center for Agricultural Health & Safety, which is funded by National Institute of Occupational Health and Safety Grant No. 2U54OH007550, and from the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research. We also thank Trish Hernandez and Susan Gabbard at JBS International; Daniel Carroll at the U.S. Department of Labor; Don Villarejo and Gail Wadsworth at the California Institute for Rural Studies; Marc Schenker, Heather Riden, and Emily Sousa at the Western Center for Agricultural Health and Safety; and Angelo Lorenti.

Supplementary material

13524_2018_746_MOESM1_ESM.docx (47 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 46.8 kb)

References

  1. Allison, P. D. (2009). Missing data. In R. E. Millsap & A. Maydeu-Olivares (Eds.), The SAGE handbook of quantitative methods in psychology (pp. 72–90). London, UK: SAGE.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Arcury, T. A., Grzywacz, J. G., Sidebottom, J., & Wiggins, M. F. (2013). Overview of immigrant worker occupational health and safety for the agriculture, forestry, and fishing (AgFF) sector in the southeastern United States. American Journal of Industrial Medicine, 56, 912–924.Google Scholar
  3. Arenas, E., Goldman, N., Pebley, A. R., & Teruel, G. (2015). Return migration to Mexico: Does health matter? Demography, 52, 1853–1868.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Asad, A. L., & Clair, M. (2016). Racialized legal status as a social determinant of health. Social Science & Medicine, 199, 19–28.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Austin, P. C., & Stuart, E. A. (2015). Moving towards best practice when using inverse probability of treatment weighting (IPTW) using the propensity score to estimate causal treatment effects in observational studies. Statistics in Medicine, 34, 3661–3679.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bachmeier, J. D., Van Hook, J., & Bean, F. D. (2014). Can we measure immigrants’ legal status? Lessons from two U.S. surveys. International Migration Review, 48, 538–566.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bean, F. D., Leach, M. A., Brown, S. K., Bachmeier, J. D., & Hipp, J. R. (2011). The educational legacy of unauthorized migration: Comparisons across U.S.-immigrant groups in how parents’ status affects their offspring. International Migration Review, 45, 348–385.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Berk, M. L., & Schur, C. L. (2001). The effect of fear on access to care among undocumented Latino immigrants. Journal of Immigrant Health, 3, 151–156.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Castañeda, H., Holmes, S. M., Madrigal, D. S., Young, M.-E. D., Beyeler, N., & Quesada, J. (2015). Immigration as a social determinant of health. Annual Review of Public Health, 36, 375–392.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Connor, A., Layne, L., & Thomisee, K. (2010). Providing care for migrant farm worker families in their unique sociocultural context and environment. Journal of Transcultural Nursing, 21, 159–166.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Davis, K. G., & Kotowski, S. E. (2007). Understanding the ergonomic risk for musculoskeletal disorders in the United States agricultural sector. American Journal of Industrial Medicine, 50, 501–511.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. De Trinidad Young, M.-E., & Madrigal, D. S. (2017). Documenting legal status: A systematic review of measurement of undocumented status in health research. Public Health Reviews, 38(article 26), 1–25.  https://doi.org/10.1186/s40985-017-0073-4 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. De Trinidad Young, M.-E., & Pebley, A. R. (2017). Legal status, time in the USA, and the well-being of Latinos in Los Angeles. Journal of Urban Health, 94, 764–775.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Donham, K. J., & Thelin, A. (2016). Special risk populations in agricultural communities. In K. J. Donham & A. Thelin (Eds.), Agricultural medicine: Rural occupational and environmental health, safety, and prevention (2nd ed., pp. 43–94). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley & Sons.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Dreby, J. (2015). Everyday illegal: When policies undermine immigrant families. Oakland: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  16. Durand, J., Massey, D. S., & Zenteno, R. M. (2001). Mexican immigration to the United States: Continuities and changes. Latin American Research Review, 36(1), 107–127.Google Scholar
  17. Flynn, M. A., Eggerth, D. E., & Jacobson, C. J. (2015). Undocumented status as a social determinant of occupational safety and health: The workers’ perspective. American Journal of Industrial Medicine, 58, 1127–1137.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Gonzales, R. G., & Chavez, L. R. (2012). Awakening to a nightmare. Current Anthropology, 53, 255–281.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Gonzales, R. G., Suárez-Orozco, C., & Dedios-Sanguineti, M. C. (2013). No place to belong. American Behavioral Scientist, 57, 1174–1199.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Government Accountability Office (GAO). (2006). Estimating the undocumented population: A “grouped answers” approach to surveying foreign-born respondents (GAO Report No. GAO-06-775). Washington, DC: U.S. Government Accountability Office. Retrieved from http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-06-775
  21. Guarnaccia, P. J., Angel, J. L., & Angel, R. (1992). The impacts of farm work on health: Analyses of the Hispanic Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. International Migration Review, 26, 111–132.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Hagan, J. M., Rodriguez, N., & Castro, B. (2011). Social effects of mass deportations by the United States government, 2000–10. Ethnic and Racial Studies, 34, 1374–1391.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Hall, M., & Greenman, E. (2015). The occupational cost of being illegal in the United States: Legal status, job hazards, and compensating differentials. International Migration Review, 49, 406–442.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Hall, M., Greenman, E., & Farkas, G. (2010). Legal status and wage disparities for Mexican immigrants. Social Forces, 89, 491–513.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Holmes, S. M. (2013). Fresh fruit, broken bodies: Migrant farmworkers in the United States. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  26. Iten, A. E., Jacobs, E. A., Lahiff, M., & Fernández, A. (2014). Undocumented immigration status and diabetes care among Mexican immigrants in two immigration “sanctuary” areas. Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health, 16, 229–238.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Krogstad, J. M., Passel, J. S., & Cohn, D. (2017). 5 facts about illegal immigration in the U.S. (FactTank report). Washington, DC: Pew Research Center.. Retrieved from http://pewrsr.ch/2pqs0RS
  28. Lee, S.-J., Tak, S., Alterman, T., & Calvert, G. M. (2014). Prevalence of musculoskeletal symptoms among agricultural workers in the United States: An analysis of the National Health Interview Survey, 2004–2008. Journal of Agromedicine, 19, 268–280.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Leigh, J. P., McCurdy, S. A., & Schenker, M. B. (2001). Costs of occupational injuries in agriculture. Public Health Reports, 116, 235–248.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Li, L., Kleinman, K., & Gillman, M. W. (2014). A comparison of confounding adjustment methods with an application to early life determinants of childhood obesity. Journal of Developmental Origins of Health and Disease, 5, 435–447.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Liebman, A. K., Juarez-Carrillo, P. M., Reyes, I. A. C., & Keifer, M. C. (2016). Immigrant dairy workers’ perceptions of health and safety on the farm in America’s Heartland. American Journal of Industrial Medicine, 59, 227–235.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Lindstrom, D. P., & López Ramírez, A. (2010). Pioneers and followers: Migrant selectivity and the development of U.S. migration streams in Latin America. Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 630, 53–77.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Link, B. G., & Phelan, J. (1995). Social conditions as fundamental causes of disease. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 35(Extra Issue), 80–94.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. López, G., Bialik, K., & Radford, J. (2018). Key findings about U.S. immigrants (Fact Tank report). Washington, DC: Pew Research Center. Retrieved from http://pewrsr.ch/2qz2zvx
  35. López, G., & Radford, J. (2017). 2015, foreign-born population in the United States statistical portrait: Statistical portrait of the foreign-born population in the United States (Pew Research Center Hispanic Trends report). Retrieved from http://www.pewhispanic.org/2017/05/03/statistical-portrait-of-the-foreign-born-population-in-the-united-states-2015/
  36. Markides, K. S., & Coreil, J. (1986). The health of Hispanics in the southwestern United States: An epidemiologic paradox. Public Health Reports, 101, 253–265.Google Scholar
  37. Martin, P. (2017). Immigration and farm labor: From unauthorized to H-2A for some? (MPI issue brief). Washington, DC: Migration Policy Institute. Retrieved from https://www.migrationpolicy.org/research/immigration-and-farm-labor-unauthorized-h-2a-some
  38. Martinez, O., Wu, E., Sandfort, T., Dodge, B., Carballo-Dieguez, A., Pinto, R., & Carballo-Dieguez, S. (2013). Evaluating the impact of immigration policies on health status among undocumented immigrants: A systematic review. Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health, 17, 947–970.Google Scholar
  39. Massey, D. S., Durand, J., & Pren, K. A. (2015). Border enforcement and return migration by documented and undocumented Mexicans. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 41, 1015–1040.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Massey, D. S., Goldring, L., & Durand, J. (1994). Continuities in transnational migration: An analysis of nineteen Mexican communities. American Journal of Sociology, 99, 1492–1533.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Mills, P. K., Dodge, J., & Yang, R. (2009). Cancer in migrant and seasonal hired farm workers. Journal of Agromedicine, 14, 185–191.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Palloni, A., & Morenoff, J. D. (2001). Interpreting the paradoxical in the Hispanic paradox: Demographic and epidemiologic approaches. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 954, 140–174.Google Scholar
  43. Patler, C. (2017). Citizen advantage, undocumented disadvantage, or both? The comparative educational outcomes of second and 1.5-generation Latino young adults. International Migration Review. Advance online publication.  https://doi.org/10.1111/imre.12347
  44. Phelan, J. C., & Link, B. G. (2015). Is racism a fundamental cause of inequalities in health? Annual Review of Sociology, 41, 311–330.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Riosmena, F., Everett, B. G., Rogers, R. G., & Dennis, J. A. (2014). Negative acculturation and nothing more? Cumulative disadvantage and mortality during the immigrant adaptation process among Latinos in the United States. International Migration Review, 49, 443–478.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Riosmena, F., Kuhn, R., & Jochem, W. C. (2017). Explaining the immigrant health advantage: Self-selection and protection in health-related factors among five major national-origin immigrant groups in the United States. Demography, 54, 175–200.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Robins, J. (1986). A new approach to causal inference in mortality studies with a sustained exposure period—application to control of the healthy worker survivor effect. Mathematical Modelling, 7, 1393–1512.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Rosenbaum, P. R. (1984). The consquences of adjustment for a concomitant variable that has been affected by the treatment. Journal of the Royal Statistical Society: Series A (General), 147, 656–666.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Rubalcava, L. N., Teruel, G. M., Thomas, D., & Goldman, N. (2008). The healthy migrant effect: New findings from the Mexican Family Life Survey. American Journal of Public Health, 98, 78–84.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Snipes, S. A., Cooper, S. P., & Shipp, E. M. (2017). “The only thing I wish I could change is that they treat us like people and not like animals”: Injury and discrimination among Latino farmworkers. Journal of Agromedicine, 22, 36–46.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Stoecklin-Marois, M. T., Hennessy-Burt, T. E., & Schenker, M. B. (2011). Engaging a hard-to-reach population in research: Sampling and recruitment of hired farm workers in the MICASA study. Journal of Agricultural Safety and Health, 17, 291–302.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Swanberg, J. E., Clouser, J. M., & Westneat, S. (2012). Work organization and occupational health: Perspectives from Latinos employed on crop and horse breeding farms. American Journal of Industrial Medicine, 55, 714–728.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Thoemmes, F., & Ong, A. D. (2016). A primer on inverse probability of treatment weighting and marginal structural models. Emerging Adulthood, 4, 40–59.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Tonozzi, T. R., & Layne, L. A. (2016). Hired crop worker injuries on farms in the United States: A comparison of two survey periods from the National Agricultural Workers Survey. American Journal of Industrial Medicine, 59, 408–423.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Torres, J. M., & Young, M. E. D. (2016). A life-course perspective on legal status stratification and health. SSM–Population Health, 2, 141–148.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Tran, L. H., & Perloff, J. M. (2002). Turnover in U.S. agricultural labor markets. American Journal of Agricultural Economics, 84, 427–437.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. U.S. Department of Labor. (2009). The National Agricultural Workers Survey, Part B: Collection of information employing statistical methods, description of universe and sample. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Labor. Retrieved from https://www.doleta.gov/pdf/NAWS StatisticalMethodsAKASupportingStatementPart B.pdf
  58. U.S. Department of Labor. (2017a). National Agricultural Workers Survey. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Labor. Retrieved from https://www.doleta.gov/naws/
  59. U.S. Department of Labor (2017b). Agricultural worker tables: Demographic characteristics. Washington, DC: National Agricultural Workers Survey, U.S. Department of Labor.Google Scholar
  60. Villarejo, D., McCurdy, S. A., Bade, B., Samuels, S., Lighthall, D., & Williams, D., III. (2010). The health of California’s immigrant hired farmworkers. American Journal of Industrial Medicine, 53, 387–397.Google Scholar
  61. Waters, M. C., & Pineau, M. G. (Eds.). (2016). The integration of immigrants into American society. Washington, DC: National Academies Press.Google Scholar
  62. Williamson, E. J., Forbes, A., & White, I. R. (2014). Variance reduction in randomised trials by inverse probability weighting using the propensity score. Statistics in Medicine, 33, 721–737.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Wilson, J. H. (2013). Immigration facts: Temporary foreign workers (Immigration Facts Series report). Washington, DC: Brookings. Retrieved from https://www.brookings.edu/research/immigration-facts-temporary-foreign-workers/
  64. Xiao, Y., Moodie, E. E. M., & Abrahamowicz, M. (2013). Comparison of approaches to weight truncation for marginal structural Cox models. Epidemiologic Methods, 2, 1–20.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Population Association of America 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Erin R. Hamilton
    • 1
  • Jo Mhairi Hale
    • 2
    • 3
  • Robin Savinar
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of SociologyUniversity of California, DavisDavisUSA
  2. 2.School of Geography and Sustainable Development, Irvine BuildingUniversity of St AndrewsSt AndrewsUK
  3. 3.Max Planck Institute for Demographic ResearchRostockGermany

Personalised recommendations