Journal of Immigrant Health

, Volume 3, Issue 3, pp 151–156 | Cite as

The Effect of Fear on Access to Care Among Undocumented Latino Immigrants

  • Marc L. BerkEmail author
  • Claudia L. Schur


The passage of California's Proposition 187 in 1994 intensified debate over health care access for the undocumented population. Under Proposition 187, physicians would have been required to report the undocumented immigrants to immigration authorities. Even before 187, some undocumented may have been wary to come in contact with the medical care system. This paper examines whether concerns about one's immigration status serves as a deterrent to seeking care. These concerns may be resurfacing, with changes under the 1996 welfare reform legislation and related amendments that affect eligibility of noncitizen immigrants for public programs and states' ability to provide care to undocumented immigrants. Therefore, representative in-person surveys of undocumented Latinos were conducted in Houston, El Paso, Fresno, and Los Angeles in neighborhoods with significant concentrations of Latinos. It was found that 39% of the undocumented adult immigrants expressed fear about receiving medical services because of undocumented status. Those reporting fear were likelier to report inability acquiring medical and dental care, prescription drugs, and eyeglasses. Hence it can be concluded that concern about immigration status decreases the likelihood of receiving care.

vulnerable populations illegal immigrants access to care 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Johnson KR: Public benefits and immigration: The intersection of immigration status, ethnicity, gender, and class. UCLA Law Rev 1995; 42:1509Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Shuit DP: Fears abound over prenatal care at clinics. Los Angeles Times, Nov 12, 1994Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Catania S: County report: A message hits home. Los Angeles Times, Nov 20, 1994Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Jablon R: Health crisis seen if Proposition 187 holds. Fresno Bee, Nov 12, 1994Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Asch S, Leake B, Gelberg L: Does fear of immigration authorities deter tuberculosis patients from seeking care? West J Med 1994; 161:373–376Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Marx JL, Thach AB, Grayson G, Lowry LP, Lopez PF, Lee PP: The effects of California Proposition 187 on opthalmology clinic utilization at an inner-city urban hospital. Opthalmology 1996; 103:848–851Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Fenton JJ, Moss N, Khalil HG, Asch S: Effect of California's Proposition 187 on the use of primary care clinics. West J Med 1997; 166:16–20Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Fenton JJ, Catalano R, Hargreaves W: Effect of Proposition 187 on mental health service use in California: A case study. Health Aff 1996; 15:182–190Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) v. Gray Davis et al., Cv. No. 95–94–7569-MRP; 1999Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Cornelius WA: Interviewing undocumented immigrants: Methodological reflections based on fieldwork in Mexico and the U.S. Int Migration Rev 1982; 16:387–411Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Siddharthan K, Ahern M: Inpatient utilization by undocumented immigrants without insurance. J Health Care Poor Underserved 1996; 7: 355–362Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Good C, Jacinto R, Berk M: Surveying rare populations with probability sampling: The case of interviewing undocumented immigrants. In Proceedings of the American Association for Public Opinion Research Annual Conference, May 1998, St. Louis, MOGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Bethesda

Personalised recommendations