2021

Study takes a closer look at immigrant experiences in California


Research led by Dr. Nadereh Pourat found negative perceptions & experiences with law enforcement, workplace discrimination, & healthcare access in CA.

immigrant child

California’s Latino and Asian immigrants have varied perceptions and experiences at the workplace, accessing healthcare, encountering law or immigration enforcement, and using public benefits, according to new data released by the Fielding School's UCLA Center for Health Policy Research (CHPR), led by by Dr. Ninez Ponce, UCLA Fielding School of Public Health professor of health policy and management.

Findings were published in two fact sheets — one on immigrants’ negative perceptions of the immigration experience in California and one that focused on their experiences with law and immigration enforcement — as part of a series of studies that will come out of the Research on Immigrant Health and State Policy Study (RIGHTS), a follow-up survey of the Center’s 2018 to 2019 California Health Interview Survey.

In the first fact sheet, which looks at immigrants’ perceptions of immigrant experiences, researchers found that 70% of the 2,000 individuals surveyed perceived that immigrants experienced discrimination at the workplace due to skin color or accent. Additionally, 65% felt that they would be prevented from gaining legal U.S. immigration status if they used government benefits such as income assistance, health care, food programs and housing aid.

Researchers explain that they looked at these groups because California is home to a quarter of the nation’s immigrants, the largest immigrant population of any state, with Latinos and Asians as the largest subgroups.

“It’s critical for policymakers, community organizations and other stakeholders to understand immigrants’ experiences and how these experiences may impact their health and overall well-being. Such experiences contribute to health inequity overall,” said Dr. Nadereh Pourat, UCLA Fielding School of Public Health professor of health policy and management, associate director at the Center, and lead author of one of the fact sheets.

“Previous studies have shown that aggressive federal immigration enforcement sparks fear among the immigrant population and leads to forgoing of needed health care and other important services, even in states such as California that support immigrant rights,” she added.

Latinos and Asians had negative perceptions of various immigrant experiences

This fact sheet showed that more Latino than Asian immigrants perceived that immigrants experience discrimination in the workplace, unequal access to health care, barriers to getting legal status, safety risks when calling the police for help and risk being stopped by immigration officials while traveling. In contrast, Asian immigrants were more likely than Latino immigrants to perceive that immigrants were not safe from immigration officials in their neighborhoods.

Negative experiences also reported with law or immigration enforcement

The second fact sheet took a closer look at Latino and Asian immigrants’ experiences with local law and federal immigration enforcement policies and practices. It identified differences between three California regions: the Bay Area, Los Angeles and Southern California and the San Joaquin Valley. The authors found that higher percentages of respondents reported direct experiences with immigration and law enforcement in the San Joaquin Valley compared to the Bay Area and the Los Angeles and Southern California regions. For example, 17% of San Joaquin Valley residents reported being racially profiled by law enforcement, compared to 14% in the Los Angeles and Southern California region and 12% in the Bay Area.

The study also outlines differences between Latinos and Asians in their experiences with law enforcement. Latino immigrants reported higher percentages of knowing someone who had been deported (42% vs. 13%) and being racially profiled (16% vs. 10%). Among Asian immigrants, these were the most common law enforcement experiences.

Maria-Elena De Trinidad Young
Maria-Elena De Trinidad Young

“The data from the RIGHTS study highlights the importance of understanding the range of experiences that immigrants have encountered under our state policies,” said Dr. Maria-Elena De Trinidad Young, one of the Center’s faculty associates and an assistant professor at UC Merced. “California advanced many policy efforts to protect immigrants. Yet, immigrants’ experiences are varied and understanding their perceptions sheds light on the drivers of persistent health inequities in the state.”

The UCLA Center for Health Policy Research will release more findings from the RIGHTS study in spring 2022.

by Elaiza Torralba


The UCLA Fielding School of Public Health, founded in 1961, is dedicated to enhancing the public's health by conducting innovative research, training future leaders and health professionals from diverse backgrounds, translating research into policy and practice, and serving our local communities and the communities of the nation and the world. The school has 761 students from 26 nations engaged in carrying out the vision of building healthy futures in greater Los Angeles, California, the nation and the world.

Faculty Referenced by this Article

Dr. Ninez Ponce
Ninez Ponce
Health Policy and Management
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Nadereh Pourat
Nadereh Pourat
Health Policy and Management
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Jean Balgrosky
Health Policy and Management
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Dr. Daniel Eisenberg
Daniel Eisenberg
Health Policy and Management
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Burt Cowgill
Burt Cowgill
Health Policy and Management
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Robert Kaplan
Robert Kaplan
Health Policy and Management
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Jeanne Miranda
Jeanne Miranda
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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Dr. Alice Kuo
Alice Kuo
Health Policy and Management
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Emmeline Chuang
Health Policy and Management
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Dr. Joann Elmore
Joann G. Elmore
Health Policy and Management
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Dr. Kenneth Wells
Kenneth Wells
Health Policy and Management
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Dr. Thomas Rice
Thomas Rice
Health Policy and Management
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Dr. John Lu
Z. John Lu
Health Policy and Management
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Yusuke Tsugawa
Yusuke Tsugawa
Health Policy and Management
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Dr. Jonathan Fielding
Jonathan Fielding
Health Policy and Management
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Kadiyala, Srikanth
Srikanth Kadiyala
Health Policy and Management
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Dr. William McCarthy
William J. McCarthy
Health Policy and Management
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Freund, Deborah
Deborah Anne Freund
Health Policy and Management
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Dr. Risha Gidwani
Risha Gidwani
Health Policy and Management
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Mangione, C
Carol Mangione
Health Policy and Management
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Pamela Davidson
Health Policy and Management
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Aronberg, Sandra
Sandra Aronberg
Health Policy and Management
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Alan Tomines
Health Policy and Management
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Susan Ettner
Health Policy and Management
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Dr. Elizabeth (Becky) Yano
Elizabeth (Becky) Yano
Health Policy and Management
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Arlene Fink
Health Policy and Management
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Clifford Ko
Clifford Ko
Health Policy and Management
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Dr. Naomi Zewde
Naomi Zewde
Health Policy and Management
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Avram Kaplan
Avram Kaplan
Health Policy and Management
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Jack Needleman
Jack Needleman
Health Policy and Management
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Moira Inkelas
Moira Inkelas
Health Policy and Management
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Dr. Anthony Schiff
Anthony Hunter Schiff
Health Policy and Management
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Jose J. Escarce
Health Policy and Management
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David Hayes-Bautista
Health Policy and Management
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Ron D. Hays
Ron D. Hays

@UCLA since 1997

Health Policy and Management
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Dr. Frederick Zimmerman
Frederick Zimmerman
Health Policy and Management
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Olivia Jung
Olivia Jung
Health Policy and Management
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Ty Robbins
Health Policy and Management
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Leah Vriesman
Leah Vriesman
Health Policy and Management
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Dr. Lillian Gelberg
Lillian Gelberg
Health Policy and Management
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Dr. Aria Fallah
Aria Fallah
Health Policy and Management
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Dr. Arturo Vargas Bustamante
Arturo Vargas Bustamante
Health Policy and Management
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Steven Teutsch
Health Policy and Management
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Dr. Paul Fu, Jr.
Paul Fu, Jr.
Health Policy and Management
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Rosenstock
Linda Rosenstock
Environmental Health Sciences Health Policy and Management
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Michelle Keller
Michelle S. Keller

Dr. Michelle S. Keller is a health services researcher whose research focuses on the use and prescribing of high-risk medications.

Health Policy and Management
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Barbara Berman
Health Policy and Management
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Dr. Beth Glenn
Beth Glenn
Health Policy and Management
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Neal Halfon
Health Policy and Management
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Brennan Spiegel
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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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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Michael Ong
Michael Ong
Health Policy and Management
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Dr. Felicia Hodge
Felicia Hodge
Health Policy and Management
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Mark Litwin
Health Policy and Management
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Dr. Samuel Sessions
Samuel Sessions
Health Policy and Management
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Dr. Xi Zhu
Xi Zhu
Health Policy and Management
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Isomi Miake-Lye
Isomi Miake-Lye
Health Policy and Management
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Diana Hilberman
Diana Hilberman
Health Policy and Management
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Gerald Kominski
Gerald Kominski
Health Policy and Management
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Robert Brook
Health Policy and Management
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Lori Pelliccioni
Health Policy and Management
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Dr. Kristen Choi
Kristen Choi
Health Policy and Management
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Jody Heymann
Jody Heymann
Epidemiology Health Policy and Management
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Roshan Bastani Headshot
Roshan Bastani
Health Policy and Management
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Dr. Dylan Roby
Dylan Roby
Health Policy and Management
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Galper, Michael
Michael Galper
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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Warren Scott Comulada
Warren Scott Comulada
Health Policy and Management
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Corrina Moucheraud
Corrina Moucheraud
Health Policy and Management
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Sangeeta Ahluwalia
Sangeeta Ahluwalia
Health Policy and Management
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Dr. Jennifer Wortham
Jennifer Wortham
Health Policy and Management
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Vickie Mays
Vickie Mays
Health Policy and Management
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Emily Abel
Emily Abel
Health Policy and Management
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Paul Chung
Paul Chung
Health Policy and Management
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Comanor, Bill
William Comanor
Health Policy and Management
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Laura Erskine
Laura Erskine
Health Policy and Management
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Dr. Yvonne Flores
Yvonne Flores
Health Policy and Management
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Thomas D. Gordon
Health Policy and Management
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Annette Maxwell
Health Policy and Management
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Thomas Priselac
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