I will be discussing the movie, The Visitor, which addresses the treatment of immigrants at detention centers in the Southern U.S border. The movie explicitly shows the inhumane treatment the immigrants are subjected to at the border when seeking entry into the U.S. The movie also addresses the effects of immigration policies enacted under the Trump regime. The American Nurses Association (ANA) and the International Council of Nurses (ICN) mandate that the nursing profession advocate for social inequality that affects healthcare among vulnerable populations such as immigrants (Biggerstaff & Skomra, 2020). Therefore, nurses have an ethical responsibility to advocate for social justice for vulnerable people.
Treatment of Immigrants at Detention Centers
The movie’s subject was the treatment of immigrants at the detention centers in the Southern U.S. border. The immigration treatment theme is political, as the administration in power controls the dynamics of the operations. The U.S Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers follow the directives of executive and presidential orders. This is a political issue since the government sets controversial policies and rules. Immigrant treatment also relates to health policy where immigrants are denied vital vaccination programs under the guise of public health. In addition, health policies such as access to basic hygiene amenities are guaranteed under the human rights accord and should be administered by the ICE officials. The movie theme also entails advocacy for patients due to the inhumane standards of living immigrants are subjected to in the detention centers. Health professionals should advocate for better treatment of immigrants to avoid psychological trauma. Watching the movie elicited mixed reactions as I could not fathom how inhumane the ICE officer treated asylum seekers escaping from violence in their countries. It was an eye-opener of how much hatred the U.S government has for the immigrants.
According to the movie, immigrants are one of the most vulnerable populations in the U.S. The theme of the movie depicts the unsavory humanitarian concerns for immigrants at the border. The humanitarian crisis includes the rampant overcrowding of children in holding centers without access to showers or laundry services, leading to unsanitary conditions and increased health risks. The overcrowded facilities aggravate the dangers of health care to a population already vulnerable to health crises.
The overcrowding has elevated the risk of an outbreak of infectious diseases within the detention centers. The outbreak can have severe ramifications on the immigrants, the staff, and communities around the detention centers. In addition, there are no vaccination programs for immigrant children, especially for influenza, which was the cause of death of the children in the detention facilities (Bursztynsky, 2019). The immigrants also lack access to basic human needs, reliable hygiene, and nutrition, exacerbating the health crises. These conditions call for nurses to practice individual advocacy for immigrant patients, particularly children at a higher risk of infection. Individual advocacy can be demonstrated by implementing the highest quality of care to immigrant patients.
The death of children in the immigration centers due to poor health conditions should be a catalyst in public health advocacy. There has been no reported child death at U.S. immigration centers for almost a decade. These deaths are preventable with sufficient public health measures; thus, the health profession should advocate for enacting healthcare policies to support this vulnerable population. In addition, there should be medical personnel on-site to provide medical diagnosis, treatment of infectious diseases and coordinate referral from local health systems.
The U.S. government has been silent regarding the inhumane treatment of immigrants in the detention centers preferring to divert the subject to the decrease in crime levels on the Southern border, particularly El Paso in Texas. The U.S government is unwilling to bend its policies to the changing dynamics at the border where unoccupied children dominate the immigrant population. There has been no increase in funding within relevant agencies such as ones mandated to build safe and humane detention centers. The U.S. government is worsening the issue by the lack of staff which leads to delays in processing (Hudak & Stenglein, 2019). The backlogs lead to increased overcrowding and ultimately worse living conditions. In addition, the Department of Homeland Services (DHS) claims the vaccination process is too complex and the holding process too short for them to adopt a vaccination program.
The ideal solution for the health issues raised would be to petition Congress to recommend more stringent protocols in detention facilities to improve healthcare, such as prevention and treatment of infectious diseases. In addition, there should be repeals of the Trump era health policies regarding immigration centers, such as the issuance of vaccination programs and cancellation of health insurance proclamation. The vaccination programs should be funded by the federal government by passing bills in Congress to its effect. There should also be petitions to the acting president to cancel the health insurance proclamation, which suspended the entry of any immigrant into the U.S. that could not show they could afford health insurance within 30 days of their entry into the U.S. In addition, the immigrants were not allowed entry into the U.S if they could not show they could afford foreseeable medical costs. There should also be procedures by the DHS to accept assistance from non-profit organizations through donations and medical help.
The inhumane health situation at the immigration centers will profoundly affect my nursing profession as I now understand the health challenges affecting immigrants and asylum seekers. The inhuman treatment can affect ones’ long-term mental health leading to medical trauma. Most immigrants shun visiting clinics due to the trauma experienced at the border crossing. In addition, immigrants have lower health insurance rates and receive a lower quality of care in the U.S. I will implement competency services by using professional interpreters who speak immigrants’ native languages to improve patient satisfaction. In addition, I will offer subsidized medical services to immigrant families and refer them to psychiatrists, especially children held at detention centers.
In 2020, the global immigrant population was approximately 281 million people equating to 3.5% of the global population. These figures show that the immigration issue is experienced worldwide as people flee their countries or leave searching for better opportunities. The extent of immigration on a global scale means that no government can solve the issue independent of other nations. Undocumented workers and children will find their way across any barrier a country builds; thus, there is a need for global cooperation to manage the issue. Economic, demographic, and geopolitical factors reinforce the need for countries to consolidate policies to address the global problem. The harmonization of policies and approaches between countries will facilitate burden sharing, promote safe and secure working environments, and facilitate remittance flows.
The movie was a masterpiece as it vividly highlighted the immigration issue and the economics of border business. The movie showed the behind-the-scenes footage of how immigrants, particularly children, suffer at the hands of the immigration officers and in detention centers. The movie showed how investigative journalists should not strive to seek the truth regardless of the obstacles. I was intrigued by the movie since I had no idea of the inhumane conditions immigrants lived in before documentation and the use of prison-like standards to children.
The inhumane treatment of immigrants at the Southern border of the U.S shows the effects of the immigration policies enacted by the U.S. government to curb the human movement from Central America to the U.S. The health concerns in the detention centers call for change in health policies and patient advocacy to ensure the immigrants wait to be processed in a conducive environment. In addition, the U.S. government should improve the health situation in the detention centers to prevent deaths related to inhumane treatment and work with neighboring countries to curb the issue.
Biggerstaff, M., & Skomra, T. (2020). Nurses as Immigrant Advocates: A Brief Overview. OJIN: The Online Journal of Issues in Nursing, 25(2). https://doi.org/10.3912/ojin.vol25no02ppt69
Bursztynsky, J. (2019). The U.S. won’t provide flu vaccines to migrant families at border detention camps. CNBC. https://www.cnbc.com/2019/08/20/the-us-wont-vaccinate-migrant-children-against-the-flu-at-border-camps.html
Hudak, J., & Stenglein, C. (2019). The moral and policy failures of immigration detainee vaccination policy. Brookings. https://www.brookings.edu/research/the-moral-and-policy-failures-of-immigration-detainee-vaccination-policy/