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Immigration and Health Care: Resources for Essential Hospitals

Essential hospitals’ mission and diverse workforce uniquely position them to provide culturally competent care. Nearly half of patients at essential hospitals are racial and ethnic minorities, and many are immigrants.

Federal immigration enforcement activities can raise concerns among providers and patients, including hesitation to schedule or appear for appointments; uncertainty among providers about how to respond to immigration-related inquiries; questions about privacy; and the toll on patient’s mental health due to fear of immigration enforcement.

America’s Essential Hospitals has compiled relevant resources to inform essential hospitals about the rights of patients and providers. One of these resources — a comprehensive provider toolkit created by the National Immigration Law Center — includes fact sheets and templates on patient rights and privacy of patient records, as well as sample messages to display for patients.

Name of Resource

Description of Resource


NILC Health Care Toolkit for Providers Comprehensive toolkit with resources for health care providers (requires free registration) National Immigration Law Center
New Travel Suspension Order Could Affect Health Care Workforce Newsline discussing effect of executive orders on health care workforce America’s Essential Hospitals
Federal Agency Documents
ICE Sensitive Locations Memo (2011) Memo listing hospitals as “sensitive locations” Department of Homeland Security Immigration and Customs Enforcement
CBP Sensitive Locations Memo (2013) Memo listing hospitals as “sensitive locations” Customs and Border Patrol
ICE Memo, Clarification of Existing Practices (2013) Memo clarifying policy on health information/immigration status submitted for health insurance marketplace applications Department of Homeland Security Immigration and Customs Enforcement
DHS Fact Sheet, Existing Guidance (2016) July 2016 frequently asked questions reiterating sensitive locations policy Department of Homeland Security
When Does the Privacy Rule Allow Covered Entities to Disclose Protected Health Information to Law Enforcement Officials? Frequently asked questions on allowable protected health information disclosures to law enforcement Department of Health and Human Services
Q&A: DHS Implementation of the Executive Order on Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Feb 2017 Q&A stating sensitive locations policy still in place (Note: Question 26) Department of Homeland Security
Sample Provider Resources
Alameda Health System Leaders Say Hospitals are ‘Safe Spaces’ for Undocumented Immigrants Article about Alameda Health System’s commitment to all patients, regardless of immigration status East Bay Express; Alameda Health System website
NYC Health + Hospitals Open Letter to Immigrant New Yorkers Open letter from an essential hospital system to patients, available in 13 languages NYC Health + Hospitals
San Francisco Department of Public Health “You’re Safe Here!” Flier San Francisco Department of Public Health flier addressed to immigrant patients San Francisco Department of Public Health


None of these materials are intended to constitute legal advice; they are for educational purposes only.


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