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Entitled to Nothing

Entitled to Nothing: The Struggle for Immigrant Health Care in the Age of Welfare Reform

Copyright Date: 2011
Published by: NYU Press
Pages: 213
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  • Book Info
    Entitled to Nothing
    Book Description:

    In Entitled to Nothing, Lisa Sun-Hee Park investigates how the politics of immigration, health care, and welfare are intertwined. Documenting the formal return of the immigrant as a public charge, or a burden upon the State, the author shows how the concept has been revived as states adopt punitive policies targeting immigrants of color and require them to pay back benefits for which they are legally eligible during a time of intense debate regarding welfare reform.Park argues that the notions of public charge and public burden were reinvigorated in the 1990s to target immigrant women of reproductive age for deportation and as part of a larger project of disciplining immigrants. Drawing on nearly 200 interviews with immigrant organizations, government agencies and safety net providers, as well as careful tracking of policies and media coverage, Park provides vivid, first-person accounts of how struggles over the public charge doctrine unfolded on the ground, as well as its consequences for the immigrant community. Ultimately, she shows that the concept of public charge continues to lurk in the background, structuring our conception of who can legitimately access public programs and of the moral economy of work and citizenship in the U.S., and makes important policy suggestions for reforming our immigration system.

    eISBN: 978-0-8147-6833-4
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. CHAPTER 1 The Politics of Immigrant Reproduction
    (pp. 1-30)

    In 1998, twelve months after the birth of her twin girls, Sophia Chen¹ traveled to China to introduce the girls to their grandparents. When she and the twins returned to the Los Angeles International Airport a few weeks later, anxious to go home, they were detained unexpectedly by the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS, now ICE, Immigration Customs and Enforcement). Ms. Chen, who legally resides in the United States, was asked how she had paid for the delivery of her babies. When Ms. Chen stated that she had received Medicaid, she was sent to another office to speak with a...

  5. CHAPTER 2 The Health of the Welfare State
    (pp. 31-53)

    The massive economic restructuring of the 1970s was pivotal to the development of global capitalism. This economic transformation, driven by a ferocious faith in a global market free of barriers to facilitate the flow of capital, fueled a parallel demand for transnational labor migration.з In fact, Saskia Sassen argues that immigration is largely a result of the economic, political, and social conditions of thereceivingcountry. She states, “Immigration flows may take a while to adjust to changes in levels of labor demand or to saturation of opportunities, but eventually they always have tended to adjust to the conditions in...

  6. CHAPTER 3 The Politics of Public Charge
    (pp. 54-87)

    It is no coincidence that the notion of a “public charge” was formalized during the height of mass migration and the subsequent popularity of eugenics in the early twentieth century. The prominence of the American eugenics movement occurred in part as a response to social anxieties about immigrant female sexuality and reproduction. In his seminal text,Backdoor to Eugenics,Troy Duster notes the importance of immigration to the development of scientific racism in the United States.² During the early 1900s, the mass migration of poor European immigrants put into motion a number of efforts to distinguish this group as different...

  7. CHAPTER 4 Living with Uncertainty under Ever-Shifting State Policy
    (pp. 88-114)

    This chapter focuses on the role of social workers in safety net hospitals and clinics who work with low-income immigrant communities in California. In particular, I discuss how the federal and state policies outlined in earlier chapters have affected social workers in health care settings as they find themselves in a delicate dilemma trying to uphold their obligation to “First, do no harm . . . ” while fighting for their own existence. Social workers who work in these safety net health clinics and hospitals find themselves in a difficult position as they try to allay their patients’ fears while...

  8. CHAPTER 5 Fear and Loathing at the Border
    (pp. 115-138)

    Borders are contradictory. They have the potential to both enable and constrict ideas and actions. For this reason, borders are spaces of power. Whether they demarcate literal, physical place or figurative, abstract space, borders are socially constructed entities with the potential for real, lived consequences. Geographer David Sibley explains that boundaries can provide security and comfort as well as provoke risk and fear, depending upon where you stand and with what resources.¹ Subsequently, the ability to cross boundaries—or, to move from a familiar to an alien space—can be an anxious experience. In some circumstances it can be fatal....

  9. CHAPTER 6 Bearing the Burden of Welfare Reform
    (pp. 139-154)

    On September 9, 2009, Representative Joe Wilson interrupted President Barack Obama’s speech to a joint session of Congress by loudly shrieking, “You lie!” This unprecedented outburst occurred when the president was specifically addressing the issue of undocumented immigrants’ access within his new health care reform plan. As aNew York Timeseditorial later stated, “Illegal immigration is an all-purpose policy explosive.”² Why is this? What makes this issue so volatile? Undocumented immigrants are and will remain ineligible for Medicaid under the president’s new plan.³ And yet, the ensuing debate over whether Rep. Wilson should have formally apologized on the senate...

  10. APPENDIX A: Research Methods
    (pp. 155-158)
  11. APPENDIX B: Summary of Provisions of Federal Welfare and Immigration Reform Affecting Health Care Access
    (pp. 159-160)
  12. NOTES
    (pp. 161-178)
    (pp. 179-192)
  14. INDEX
    (pp. 193-204)
    (pp. 205-205)