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The Future of Population Health
Centennial Issue Health Disparities
Alana M. W. Lebrón
Ivy R. Torres
William D. Lopez
Maria-Elena De Trinidad Young
The Future of Population Health
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More than 281 million people worldwide live outside their country of birth, and 15% of the United States population (50.6 million people) are immigrants.1 As migration rises across the globe, attention to the health of migrants and immigrants is a vital aspect of public health in the United States and worldwide. Immigrants’ rights and access to opportunities and health-promoting resources are directly linked with their health and health care access.2–9 Policies and social mobilization surrounding immigrant health are particularly important to examine, since immigration and health are two politically contentious social issues that frequently converge.3,4,10 Further, the well-being of immigrant communities has implications for entire societies, making immigration an increasingly important topic of discussion, debate, policy, practice, and research.10,11
In this Perspective, using the United States as a case study, we review existing literature regarding societal ideologies, policy, research, and practice toward immigration and immigrants, with a focus on gains and successes to promote immigrant health, continuing problems that have implications for immigrant health, potential solutions, and implications for public health over the coming decades. We situate research and action on immigration and health in a global context, then describe key concepts central to immigrant health. We then focus on structural factors that shape the health and well-being of immigrant communities in destination countries, namely immigration and immigrant policies. As public health professionals, we ground this review in a human rights perspective that values the health and well-being of all people regardless of nationality, mode of migration, or legal status. We also ground our discussion in structural racism and health equity lenses, as these provide rigorous perspectives for assessing how policies and other structural factors influence immigrant health. We close by suggesting structural interventions that are necessary to address the societal and political factors that contribute to immigrants’ poor health in the United States and globally.
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The Milbank Quarterly’s multidisciplinary approach and commitment to applying the best empirical research to practical policymaking offers in-depth assessments of the social, economic, political, historical, legal, and ethical dimensions of health and health care policy.