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UAlbany Sociologist Examines Immigrant Health, Immigration Enforcement

UAlbany sociologist Kate Strully is seeking to determine how county and state immigration enforcement laws affect the health of undocumented immigrants and their children.

ALBANY, N.Y. (September 1, 2015) -- As the debate over immigration reform has taken the spotlight during the early stages of the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election cycle, University at Albany sociologist Kate Strully is seeking to determine how county and state immigration enforcement laws affect the health of undocumented immigrants and their children.

Her study will examine the impact of certain laws that have varied over time and across states, such as E-verify mandates, regulation of driver’s licenses and laws that authorize local law enforcement agencies to check individuals’ citizenship status and set in motion deportment proceedings.

Her work is being supported by a $452,587 grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

UAlbany Sociologist Kate Strully
UAlbany Associate Professor of Sociology Kate Strully (Photo Mark Schmidt)

According to the nonpartisan Pew Research Center, an estimated 11.2 million unauthorized immigrants lived in the U.S. in 2012, down from a peak of 12.2 million in 2007 but essentially unchanged since 2009.

"We hypothesize that the most punitive versions of these laws are likely to increase the environmental demands on immigrant families, while also giving them fewer resources for coping with those demands." said Strully, an associate professor of sociology in UAlbany’s College of Arts and Sciences. "This is likely to heighten stress and lead to negative health consequences for undocumented immigrants and their families."

Strully and her team will test whether the enactment of a given immigration law affects physical health, mental health, and access to health care for undocumented immigrants, and whether restrictive immigration laws have unintended negative effects on the health of individuals who may be incorrectly perceived to be undocumented immigrants.

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