The Trump administration announced that it will phase out Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, a move that will affect 800,000 recipients, their families, and communities. A social scientist, Harvard University professor Roberto Gonzales, summarized his research into how lack of legal immigration status shaped the lives of young people pre-DACA, and how DACA changed the lives of recipients. Before DACA, “even those young adults who had attained advanced degrees found their work and life outcomes limited — and unusually similar to those of less-educated peers. Because they lacked Social Security numbers, driver’s licenses, and other credentials, college graduates found they had little choice but to enter the informal, low-wage labor market… Life in the shadows enacts a heavy toll: The undocumented young adults in my study were the embodiment of Langston Hughes’ “dream deferred.” In my book, using a term from sociology, I argued that illegality was a “master status”: a binding constraint that overwhelmed all other traits and achievements.”
Rescinding DACA could take a toll on the mental health of the children of parents who have been protected by the program, David D. Laitin of the Stanford Immigration Policy Lab writes in the Washington Post. Laitin cites a Policy Lab study that showed that after DACA was introduced, children of parents who were eligible for DACA had fewer mental health challenges, such as adjustment and anxiety disorders, than children of parents who were not eligible for protection from deportation.
About 64,000 people died from drug overdoses in the U.S. in 2016, an increase of 22% over 2015, and of 540% over the last three years, according to new data. The numbers from the CDC National Center for Health Statistics indicate that much of the increase resulted from deaths from Fentanyl and other synthetic opioids. According to the New York Times, the 64,000 deaths exceed historic highs in deaths from car crashes (1972), H.I.V. (1995), and guns (1993).
Reporting on Health interviews disability-rights advocates on enshrining healthcare and accessibility as civil rights, and the need to reframe the challenge of accessibility: “the problem for disabled people trying to access housing, education, and jobs is a society that prevents them from doing so, not disability itself.”
The Trump administration will slash Affordable Care Act enrollment outreach and advertising, cutting $23 million from the in-person outreach and reducing the advertising budget from $100 million last year to $10 million this year.
US Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein spoke out on the threat posed by far-right homegrown terrorism: “Domestic terrorism is often motivated by hatred and bigotry. Last October, three suspects were indicted on federal charges for a plot to target an apartment complex in Garden City, Kansas, where Somali immigrants live and worship. The charges include civil rights violations. Those defendants are now awaiting trial…. Yesterday, you heard a presentation about Dylann Roof’s diabolical attack at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina. Roof murdered nine innocent and unarmed members of a Bible study group. He espoused his desire to spark a race war. Roof was convicted on hate crime charges, and sentenced to death… In Charlottesville this month, we saw and heard people openly advocate racism and bigotry… Our Department of Justice responded immediately. We are working closely with local authorities on potential criminal civil rights prosecutions. The First Amendment often protects hateful speech that is abhorrent to American values. But there can be no safe harbor for violence.”
People who are lonely are more likely to die earlier, according research presented at the 125th Annual Convention of the American Psychological Association by Brigham Young University psychologist Julianne Holt-Lunstad. “There is robust evidence that social isolation and loneliness significantly increase risk for premature mortality, and the magnitude of the risk exceeds that of many leading health indicators,” she said. Holt-Lunstad presented data from an analysis of 148 studies representing more than 300,000 people that suggested that more robust social connections are linked with a 50 percent reduced risk of early death, as well as data from 70 additional studies representing more than 3.4 million people that found isolation, loneliness, or living alone are associated with a greater risk of early death.
In response to last month’s events sparked by a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, the American College of Physicians issued a policy statement declaring that hate crimes are a public health issue. The association’s president Jack Ende said physicians ”must educate the public that hate crimes are a public health issue, exacting a toll on the health of those directly victimized and on the health of the entire community.”
New York City public schools will provide lunch free of charge to all 1.1 million students starting this school year. The New York Times reports that “this move has been long sought by food-policy advocates and many members of the New York City Council, who said that some students would prefer to go hungry rather than admit they cannot afford to pay for lunch. Nationally, the practice of “lunch shaming” — holding children publicly accountable for unpaid school lunch bills — has garnered attention. The vast majority of New York City public school students are poor: About 75 percent of them had already qualified for free or reduced-price lunches, officials said, and in New York City those who qualified for the lower cost received it for free, as well. Still, the new initiative will reach an additional 200,000 students and save their families about $300 per year. The full price for a school lunch is $1.75 per day.”
As Houston, Texas, begins to clean up after Hurricane Harvey, local health officials announced that high levels of a carcinogen – benzene – detected in a neighborhood close to an oil refinery, heightening concerns about hazardous exposures to residents. The New York Times reports that “Manchester, a low-income neighborhood hemmed in by two freeways, a shipping lane and the Valero refinery, has long suffered from industrial pollution. Researchers have found elevated levels of childhood leukemia in several areas in Houston, including Manchester, a plight blamed on high levels of chemicals in the air... Since Aug. 23, 31 facilities in 10 counties have reported an estimated 4.5 million pounds of excess emissions to the commission, an analysis by the Environmental Defense Fund and Environment Texas shows.”
Following declines in the 1990s and early 2000s, the rate of death by suicide for teens aged 15-19 has generally been rising since 2007, a recent CDC study reported. The rate for males increased 31% between 2007 and 2015 to 14.2 per 100,000; during the same period, the rate for females doubled from 2.4 to 5.1 per 100,000. Writing for the New York Times, pediatric professor Aaron E. Carroll notes that there are effective steps that media, the government, and the health care system can take to address the problem, from strengthening economic supports for families to improving access to mental health services to limiting access to guns. And, he says, there is role for family and community members as well: “…We need to promote connectedness and limit isolation. The best thing we can do for teens at risk is to prevent them from cutting themselves off from others.”
An article in the Stanford Social Innovation Review encourages greater investment in housing, noting it “is often the most cost-effective health care treatment available.” Providing people with safe and stable housing has been shown to reduce emergency room visits and hospitalizations and improve health outcomes for people living with everything from AIDS to diabetes to psychiatric conditions.