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Why Trump-era immigration rule likely is impacting Hispanic inoculations

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Photo by Matthew Modoono/Northeastern University
Thomas Matta, an assistant clinical professor, and members of the National Guard fill Pfizer vaccines inside Florian Hall in Dorchester, Massachusetts on March 12, 2021.

A “stigmatizing” Trump administration immigration rule that determined health benefits for green-card applicants and others is not being enforced by the Biden administration. But lingering fear of it may be hampering vaccination rates among immigrants.

“It is incredibly stigmatizing and was designed to create fear,” professor Wendy Parmet says of the so-called “public charge rule,” created in 2019 but since vacated by President Joe Biden’s administration. It “was not in keeping with our nation’s values,” Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said in a statement.

U.S. vaccination records are not kept according to a person’s immigration status, explains Parmet, the Matthews distinguished university professor of law and director of the Center for Health Policy and Law. “There’s good reason for that—immigration fears can deter people from getting vaccinated,” she says.

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