2022

"Little to no correlation found between immigrant entry and COVID-19 infection rates in the United States"


Health Affairs published research led by Dr. Arturo Vargas Bustamante, UCLA Fielding School of Public Health professor of health policy and management

The beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic raised significant political tension around immigration in the US. On the one hand, despite imposing restrictions on international travel in response to COVID-19, the US continued to issue visas for immigrant travel (albeit in smaller amounts), with 4,253,736 visas offered in fiscal year 2020 (compared with 9,204,490 in FY 2019). In contrast, in March 2020 the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) implemented Sections 362 and 365 of the Public Health Service Act, encoded in Title 42 of the US Code. This authority granted Customs and Border Protection the authority to immediately expel immigrants presenting at U.S. ports of entry or apprehended near the U.S. border to neighboring countries or their country of origin.

Immigrants expelled under Title 42 are not seen by a judge to have their potential asylum claims reviewed. Unaccompanied minors were exempted from Title 42 by court order in November 2020, and family expulsions have been curtailed by Mexico’s increasing unwillingness to accept family units with young children. Despite this, between March 2020 and April 2022, 1.8 million Title 42 expulsions were carried out. The practice has persisted despite several million monthly concurrent U.S. border crossings by essential personnel; in addition, vaccinated visa-holding nonessential travelers were given permission to cross into US ports of entry in November 2021.

The Trump and Biden administrations defended this measure as a public health intervention to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in border communities, rather than an immigration enforcement action. Furthermore, after the Biden administration decided to sunset the program in May 2022, numerous state and national officials came to the program’s defense, leading to lawsuits that have delayed its termination. Meanwhile, expelled immigrants often dwell in exposed shelters in northern Mexico, where they are vulnerable to COVID-19 spread and other human rights violations and attacks, including 8,705 reported kidnappings and assaults between January 2021 and January 2022, leading many to criticize the policy.

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Dr. Arturo Vargas Bustamante
Arturo Vargas Bustamante
Health Policy and Management
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Julie A. Elginer

EMPH Academic Program Director with expertise in healthcare marketing, finance, and reproductive health policy, teaching in the EMPH, MPH, MHA program

Health Policy and Management
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Yusuke Tsugawa
Yusuke Tsugawa
Health Policy and Management
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Dr. Thomas Rice
Thomas Rice
Health Policy and Management
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Michael Ong
Michael Ong
Health Policy and Management
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Jody Heymann
Jody Heymann
Epidemiology Health Policy and Management
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Patricia Ganz
Patricia Ganz
Health Policy and Management
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Dr. Stephanie Taylor
Stephanie L. Taylor

Nationally recognized health services researcher and sociomedical scientist with 25+ years' experience in effectiveness and implementation research.

Health Policy and Management
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Corrina Moucheraud
Corrina Moucheraud
Health Policy and Management
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Dr. Daniel Eisenberg
Daniel Eisenberg
Health Policy and Management
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Dr. John Lu
Z. John Lu
Health Policy and Management
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Gerald Kominski
Gerald Kominski
Health Policy and Management
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James Macinko
James Macinko

Professor of Community Health Sciences & Health Policy and Management, and Associate Dean for Research

Community Health Sciences Health Policy and Management
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Arlene Fink
Health Policy and Management
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Rosenstock
Linda Rosenstock
Environmental Health Sciences Health Policy and Management
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Leah Vriesman
Leah Vriesman
Health Policy and Management
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Dr. Naomi Zewde
Naomi Zewde
Health Policy and Management
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Burt Cowgill
Burt Cowgill
Health Policy and Management
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Ron Andersen

Dr. Ron Andersen is the Wasserman Professor Emeritus in the UCLA Departments of Health Policy and Management.

Health Policy and Management
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