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Health of NewcomersImmigration, Health Policy, and the Case for Global Solidarity$
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Patricia Illingworth and Wendy E. Parmet

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780814789216

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9780814789216.001.0001

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Blaming the Victim

Blaming the Victim

Public Health Protection and the Scapegoating of Newcomers

(p.52) 3 Blaming the Victim
Health of Newcomers

Patricia Illingworth

Wendy E. Parmet

NYU Press

International law recognizes public health protection as a human right that states are obligated to protect. Government efforts to fulfill that right may at times justify the restriction of individual liberty, but because of the perceived association between disease and immigration, highly coercive public health measures such as isolation and quarantine have often been applied disproportionately against immigrants. This chapter reviews the history and constitutional status of the use of coercive public health measures and the constitutional rights of newcomers in the United States, then considers the case of tuberculosis (TB), which tends to be far more prevalent in immigrant communities than in native populations in the developed world. Despite the higher prevalence of TB in among newcomers, highly coercive and punitive approaches to communicable disease control are unlikely to prevent the disease’s spread. Communicable diseases such as TB demonstrate the interdependency of human health and the importance of meeting the needs of people in high-prevalence countries as well as providing health care for, and working with rather than against, immigrants in their new homes.

Keywords:   communicable disease control, constitutional rights, immigrant, public health, quarantine, tuberculosis

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