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Trump’s Muslim Travel Ban Affected Health of Muslim-Americans, Yale Study Reveals

Trump’s Muslim Travel Ban Affected Health of Muslim-Americans, Yale Study Reveals

  • Co-authored by Indian American Pooja Agrawal, it shows hot immigration policies can have indirect and unexpected consequences for those targeted by such actions.

A Yale study has revealed that former President Donald J. Trump’s 2017 executive order banning Muslims from select countries from traveling to the United States, affected the health outcomes for Muslim-Americans. 

The study, conducted by the Yale School of Public Health and partner institutions, and co-authored by Pooja Agrawal, assistant professor at Yale School of Medicine, found that a significant number of people in the Muslim community in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area skipped their primary care appointments after the ban. Additionally, there was also an increase in their visits to the emergency department, the study noted. 

The study, published July 30 in the journal JAMA Network Open, “is one of the first to measure the causal impact of how policy changes such as these may affect Muslim American immigrant and refugee communities,” Yale said. These findings provide evidence that an abrupt change in federal immigration policy can directly affect health outcomes among people residing in the United States legally.

Before the ban, primary care visits and diagnoses of stress for individuals from Muslim-majority nations were on the rise, the researchers said. In the year following the ban, however, there were approximately 101 missed primary care appointments beyond what would have been expected among people from Muslim majority countries not named in the ban. There were also approximately 232 more emergency department visits by individuals from nations targeted by the ban than would have been predicted.

Trump issued Executive Order 13769, “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States,” shortly after his inauguration to limit the travel of refugees from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Sudan, and Yemen. The ban was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2018, only to be revoked by President Joe Biden in January 2021.

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For the study, the researchers examined more than 250,000 adult patients treated at a Minneapolis-St. Paul HealthPartners primary care clinic or in emergency departments in 2016 and 2017. These patients belonged to one of the following three groups: 1) born in a Muslim nation targeted by the ban, 2) born in a Muslim-majority nation not listed in the ban, and 3) non-Hispanic and born in the United States.

Along with senior author Gregg Gonsalves, associate professor at Yale School of Public Health, the study was co-authored by Elizabeth White, a doctoral student at the Yale School of Public Health and researchers and health practitioners from Brown University, Massachusetts General Hospital, Medical College of Wisconsin, HealthPartners Center for International Health, University of Minnesota, Harvard University, and the Yale National Clinician Scholars Program.

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