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Illinois Alliance for Welcoming Health Care Releases Model Policies to Support Immigrants at Health Facilities

Cara Yi


Fri Jun 07 2019

Illinois Alliance for Welcoming Health Care Releases Groundbreaking Statewide Model Policies to Support Immigrants at Health Facilities

Health care providers respond to negative health effects of misinformation, bias, and threats of deportation on children and families


CHICAGO (June 6, 2019)--The Illinois Alliance for Welcoming Healthcare, convened by the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR) has released a groundbreaking model policies platform, which provides guidelines and best practices for health providers to prevent unlawful ICE enforcement activities at facilities, and gives other recommendations to create a welcoming environment for everyone in every healthcare institution in Illinois. Among the first of its kind in the country, the model policies platform provides a broad scope of immigrant-related guidelines and recommendations that can be tailored and implemented across any and all health facilities in Illinois and beyond.


The model policies come at a time when immigrant communities face a volatile political climate that generates fear and deters families from seeking out healthcare assistance. Recent federal policy changes have increased threats of deportation and family separation, which are compounded by misinformation and bias. These experiences can have cascading public health effects. Recent studies have found that:

  • Children who have had a parent detained or deported experience an increased occurrence of social isolation, depression, and anxiety

  • Worry about deportation is “significantly associated with cardiovascular risk factors, including body mass index (BMI), waist circumference, and continuous measures of systolic and pulse pressure.”

  • Worry about being deported or having a relative or friend deported have a higher likelihood of reporting the need to seek mental or emotional help.


“The model policies platform will empower hospitals and social service organizations to create a more welcoming environment and to alleviate the fear and anxieties among their immigrant populations ,” said Luvia Quiñones, health policy director, ICIRR. “At a time when immigrant communities are under siege, members of the Illinois Alliance are leading the way for other health providers across the country while making a vital difference in the lives of those they serve today.”


Launched in April 2018, the Illinois Alliance for Welcoming Healthcare includes a partnership of more than 25 private and public hospitals and health providers and more than 20 social service organizations working together to provide solutions to the root causes that result in tens of thousands of Illinois residents not receiving critical health care they need.


“The model policies and protocol manual provides a robust, comprehensive range of resources that address everything from designating immigration enforcement liaisons to addressing the unique needs of sub-populations that are particularly affected by the unique stressors of living in the U.S. today,” said Andrea Kovach, senior health attorney, Shriver Center.


“I encourage all healthcare institutions to consider how to be more welcoming to immigrants and to adopt the recommendations developed by the Illinois Alliance,” said Dr. Kiran Joshi, senior medical officer, Cook County Public Health Department, who also cited numerous studies linking the fear of parental deportation with toxic stress that can lead to long-term health consequences.


As part of their overall effort to encourage the incorporation of the new model policies, a web resource was also launched today, which includes the model policies and protocol manual, a community resource page, trainings, and more about the Illinois Alliance for Welcoming Health Care.


“We share the belief that no one’s health should be compromised because of their immigration status,” said Paula Thornton Greear, vice president of external affairs, Planned Parenthood Illinois. “Providers like those of us in the Illinois Alliance are working together to provide information and resources that counter the vast misinformation related to this issue, and to ensure that everyone can access the health care they need.”


For more information, visit:  or View the Facebook Live video of the roundtable discussion, which includes testimonials by community members from Access Living and Mujeres Latinas en Acción, whose experiences exemplify the need for model policies.




About the Illinois Alliance for Welcoming Health Care

The Illinois Alliance for Welcoming Health Care is statewide coalition convened by the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, which includes more than 25 private non-profit hospitals, Cook County Health, and other health providers, and more than 20 social service organizations.

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