Access to health insurance is very limited for immigrants living in the U.S.–both undocumented immigrants and permanent residents. But a new survey has found that many U.S. adults who work on behalf of children think undocumented immigrant children should have access to healthcare equal to that of U.S.-born children.
Almost half (42 percent) of survey respondents said they agree or strongly agree that undocumented children and U.S.-born children should have equal access to healthcare, while 33 percent disagreed or strongly disagreed and 25 percent were unsure.
The survey was conducted as part of the University of Michigan National Voices Project—a five-year study of children’s opportunities funded through the W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s America Healing Initiative—in partnership with the Michigan Immigrant Rights Center. The National Voices Project surveys a unique set of people who are particularly qualified to answer questions about children’s opportunities—adults who work and/or volunteer with children.
Opinions about healthcare access for immigrant children varied among respondents from different race/ethnic backgrounds. Sixty-one percent of Hispanic respondents agreed/strongly agreed that children should have equal access to healthcare, compared with 53 percent of multi-race/other respondents, 46 percent of African American respondents, and 37 percent of non-Hispanic White respondents.
Additionally, respondents who perceived many/some racial or ethnic inequities in their communities were more likely to favor equal healthcare access for undocumented immigrant children, a finding which held true even when controlling for the race/ethnicity of people who participated in the survey.
“These findings echo what we’ve seen in previous National Voices Project surveys about opportunities for children and teens,” says Dr. Matthew M. Davis, director of the National Voices Project and a professor of pediatrics, internal medicine, public policy, and health management and policy at U-M’s School of Public Health.
“Adults who see racial or ethnic inequities in their communities tend to more favorably endorse policies that would work toward improving opportunities for the children and teens they work with,” says Dr. Davis.
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