Project reveals ongoing unreported violations of rights with medical deportations

Researchers in the Legislative Clinic at Penn Law and Free Migration Project have released a new report on the use of medical deportations in the U.S.

Researchers in the Legislative Clinic at the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School and Free Migration Project have released a new report on the use of medical deportations in the United States, revealing a routine, yet often unreported, practice of medical deportation of undocumented immigrants.

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Medical deportation is the physical removal by a non-government entity of an immigrant patient who is critically injured or ill from one country to another without the informed consent of the patient or the patient’s authorized caretaker. The report, “Fatal Flights: Medical Deportation in the U.S.,” unpacks the complexities surrounding medical deportation, identifies potential levers for change in the systems that have produced the issue, and proposes legislative advocacy to help bring this practice to an end.

The authors, which include Toll Public Interest Fellow Erica V. Rodarte Costa, Jacqueline Monnat and Free Migration Project’s Executive Director David Bennion and Program Coordinator Adrianna Torres-García, write that the practice of medical deportation is usually not in the patient’s best medical interests and typically results in poorer health outcomes—or even death—for the transported patient. These deportations often happen without any involvement by immigration courts or the Department of Homeland Security, and once undocumented immigrants leave the U.S., it can be difficult or impossible to return.

“Medical deportation is an issue that sits at the intersection of healthcare and immigration policy,” says Rodarte Costa. “It strips immigrant patients of the dignity and autonomy to make their own healthcare-related decisions, due in large part to their lack of health coverage, and plays off a power differential that causes immigrants to fear the intervention of government authorities.”

Read more at Penn Law News.