The Health of Newcomers

Immigration, Health Policy, and the Case for Global Solidarity

320 pages

January, 2017

ISBN: 9780814789216



Add to Cart Available: 12/23/2016

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Patricia Illingworth is Professor in the Department of Philosophy and in the D’Amore-McKim College of Business Administration at Northeastern University, where she is also Lecturer in Law. She is the author of AIDS and the Good Society, Trusting Medicine: The Moral Costs of Managed Care, and Us Before Me: Ethics and Social Capital for Global Well-Being. She also blogs for the Huffington Post.

All books by Patricia Illingworth

Wendy E. Parmet is George J. and Kathleen Waters Matthews Distinguished Professor of Law and Professor of Public Policy and Urban Affairs at Northeastern University, where she directs the program on Health Policy & Law. She is the author of Populations, Public Health, and the Law.

All books by Wendy E. Parmet

Immigration and health care are hotly debated and contentious issues. Policies that relate to both issues—to the health of newcomers—often reflect misimpressions about immigrants, and their impact on health care systems. Despite the fact that immigrants are typically younger and healthier than natives, and that many immigrants play a vital role as care-givers in their new lands, native citizens are often reluctant to extend basic health care to immigrants, choosing instead to let them suffer, to let them die prematurely, or to expedite their return to their home lands. Likewise, many nations turn against immigrants when epidemics such as Ebola strike, under the false belief that native populations can be kept well only if immigrants are kept out. 

In The Health of Newcomers, Patricia Illingworth and Wendy E. Parmet demonstrate how shortsighted and dangerous it is to craft health policy on the basis of ethnocentrism and xenophobia. Because health is a global public good and people benefit from the health of neighbor and stranger alike, it is in everyone’s interest to ensure the health of all. Drawing on rigorous legal and ethical arguments and empirical studies, as well as deeply personal stories of immigrant struggles, Illingworth and Parmet make the compelling case that global phenomena such as poverty, the medical brain drain, organ tourism, and climate change ought to inform the health policy we craft for newcomers and natives alike. 


  • “The authors make a compelling case that the relationship between immigration and health policy is far more nuanced than has been generally recognized.”

    Health Affairs

  • "Expertly explores health and its relation to immigrants and natives, arguing that global health is an important norm for all nations and global health threats have implications for all."


  • “The struggle to guarantee social rights transcends local legislations and the traditional idea of citizenship, given the human rights nature of these entitlements. This means that the demand for healthcare can come from anybody, and not only from citizens of a particular country. This book provides solid empirical, legal, and ethical arguments in support of the expansion of healthcare to immigrants. It must be read by all those committed to closing the unacceptable gaps that so unequally allocate opportunities along gender, racial, ethnic, migration, and socioeconomic lines.”

    —Julio Frenk, MD, PhD, President of the University of Miami and former Minister of Health of Mexico

  • “In an age of Ebola and Zika, policy makers and the public must read this book. It conveys a message of hope, not fear, as an antidote to the politics of animus and exclusion. Illingworth and Parmet beam a bright light of rationality on the pervasive public discourse about migration and health.”

    —Lawrence O. Gostin, O'Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law, Georgetown University Law Center

  • “At a time when debate about migrants and health care has devolved to sound bites often devoid of facts, Patricia Illingworth and Wendy E. Parmet remind us that in order to build healthy and thriving communities, we must ensure that all people, regardless of socioeconomic or immigration status, should be able to get the quality, affordable health care they need when they need it. They make a persuasive, comprehensive argument that making access to health care a universal public good among all nations actually improves health outcomes for all of us.”

    —Marielena Hincapi√©, Esq., Executive Director, National Immigration Law Center