Bioethics Blogs

Filling the Vacuum: Immigration, Health Policy and Latino Leadership in Medicine

By Jacob Begres and Orlando Sola

“When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs, they’re bringing crime, they’re rapists, and some, I assume, are good people.”
-Donald Trump

The history of the United States is defined by waves of immigration, starting first with English religious migrants and moving through migration from Europe, Asia, Africa, and South America.  Though we have seen periods of migration from a variety of cultures and ethnicities, the Latino experience has been particularly entwined in our country’s history and reaches back to the very founding of the nation, when lands inhabited by Spanish-speaking communities were integrated into the new American social fabric.  Despite this long history of Latino migration, however, the history of discourse surrounding Latino economic and political migrants has been fraught with bigotry and historical myopia from its political leaders.  We need look no further than our own presidential election to find examples…

As such, the Latino community has been, and continues to be, the subject of countless debate questions, conferences, and political advertisements in the current media.  Yet few, if any, of the individuals involved in current political discourse have understand the Latino experience in America. Latino migrational trends continue to grow as Latinos are the fasting growing demographic in the United States – in fact, during the decade of 2000-2010, half of the nation’s population growth was due to Latino immigrants alone.  Despite these demographic shifts, the Latino population continues to suffer from a dearth of political advocates.  The growth in the Latino population, coupled with a lack of political agency, is magnified in health policy, where debates are based on politically motivated anecdotes instead of empiric data endorsed by individuals with expertise in both health care provision and health policy.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.