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February 26, 1997

Protecting the Health of Children of Immigrants: Innocent Victims of Adult Policy

JAMA. 1997;277(8):672. doi:10.1001/jama.1997.03540320074040

It has become fashionable again in the United States to support anti-immigrant public policy. These attitudes, policies, and resulting laws affect health care access for immigrants and particularly for the children of immigrants. California Proposition 187, which denies virtually all government services—including health benefits—to undocumented immigrants, began the current round of anti-immigrant legislation, though it has not been implemented since its passage in 1994, due to legal challenges. Federal and state welfare reform, passed in 1996 and being implemented this year, is the major threat to access for immigrants, because health insurance through Medicaid and other government programs is linked to welfare. While denial of public services to legal and undocumented immigrants is typically aimed at adults, children are usually the ones most affected. In this issue of JAMA, Halfon et al1 offer fresh reflections about the relationship between health services access and Medicaid enrollment for Latino children in