Declared impact of the US President's statements and campaign statements on Latino populations' perceptions of safety and emergency care access

PLoS One. 2019 Oct 30;14(10):e0222837. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0222837. eCollection 2019.


Statements about building walls, deportation and denying services to undocumented immigrants made during President Trump's presidential campaign and presidency may induce fear in Latino populations and create barriers to their health care access. To assess how these statements relate to undocumented Latino immigrants' (UDLI) and Latino legal residents/citizens' (LLRC) perceptions of safety and their presentations for emergency care, we conducted surveys of adult patients at three county emergency departments (EDs) in California from June 2017 to December 2018. Of 1,684 patients approached, 1,337 (79.4%) agreed to participate: 34.3% UDLI, 36.9% LLRC, and 29.8% non-Latino legal residents/citizens (NLRC). The vast majority of UDLI (95%), LLRC (94%) and NLRC (85%) had heard statements about immigrants. Most UDLI (89%), LLRC (88%) and NLRC (87%) either thought that these measures were being enacted now or will be enacted in the future. Most UDLI and half of LLRC reported that these statements made them feel unsafe living in the US, 75% (95% CI 70-80%) and 51% (95% CI 47-56%), respectively. More UDLI reported that these statements made them afraid to come to the ED (24%, 95% CI 20-28%) vs LLRC (4.4%, 95% CI 3-7%) and NLRC (3.5%, 95% CI 2-6%); 55% of UDLI with this fear stated it caused them to delay coming to the ED (median delay 2-3 days). The vast majority of patients in our California EDs have heard statements during the 2016 presidential campaign or from President Trump about measures against undocumented immigrants, which have induced worry and safety concerns in both UDLI and LLRC patients. Exposure to these statements was also associated with fear of accessing emergency care in some UDLIs. Given California's sanctuary state status, these safety concerns and ED access fears may be greater in a nationwide population of Latinos.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • California / epidemiology
  • Emergency Medical Services / statistics & numerical data*
  • Emergency Service, Hospital / statistics & numerical data*
  • Emergency Treatment
  • Emigrants and Immigrants / statistics & numerical data*
  • Fear / psychology
  • Female
  • Hispanic or Latino / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Undocumented Immigrants*
  • United States / epidemiology

Grants and funding

This study was supported in part by a grant (RMR) from the University of California Institute for Mexico and the United States (UC MEXUS- The sponsors had no role in the design and conduct of the study; collection, management, analysis, and interpretation of the data; preparation, review, or approval of the manuscript; and decision to submit the manuscript for publication. The contents of the article are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the sponsors.