Immigrant Access to Healthcare

Immigrant Access to Healthcare


The objective of this unique and exciting campaign is to provide better access to healthcare for the estimated 250,000 New York City residents who are undocumented and uninsured, with a particular focus on those with serious health conditions. In New York State, persons with pending applications for an immigration benefit are immediately eligible for full State funded Medicaid coverage.  These individuals are considered by the New York State Department of Health to be Permanently Residing Under Color of Law (“PRUCOL”) and are eligible for Medicaid should they meet income eligibility requirements.

This coverage can make a critical difference in their access to treatment and health services. HJ lawyers and advocates offer individual immigration representation, assist in connecting clients to State Medicaid, and provide extra-legal wrap around services such as addressing housing insecurity and negotiating the transplant process.  Additionally, we do extensive outreach and community education on the issue and are implementing a broader policy agenda around access to healthcare for undocumented New Yorkers.

Campaign Successes:
  • After several years of dialysis, after filing for an immigration benefit through sponsorship by a United States citizen family member, Mr. M was able to sign up for full scale State-funded Medicaid and enter onto the kidney transplant list.  In Spring 2015, Mr. M received a kidney transplant as well as essential transportation to and from his medical provider.
  • Mr. C. had been residing in the acute care ward of a hospital for two years – a very difficult living situation for the client and a huge cost to the hospital – but the hospital was unable to discharge him to a more appropriate setting because he was undocumented and had no insurance.  NYLPI discovered that he had been the victim of an armed robbery and helped law enforcement apprehend and prosecute his attacker.  We promptly filed a “U visa” petition based on this experience. He had been eligible for this type of relief for fourteen years but was not aware because he had never spoken to an immigration attorney.  Just a few weeks after filing, Mr. C became Medicaid-eligible.  We got him enrolled in Medicaid and the hospital found him a placement in a much less-restrictive nursing home, where he has made significant strides in health and well-being.

For more information on PRUCOL and UndocuCare click on the links below:

PRUCOL Medicaid Access and alternative healthcare options: Click Here

UndocuCare Flyer: English Español中文

If you have a medical condition but do not have the legal status to get health
insurance, free legal assistance may be available.

NYLPI offers free legal consultations and legal representation to people who need health
insurance and immigration assistance.

You may qualify for Medicaid.
Interpreters are available.
Please call:
(212) 244-4664

Intake times: Monday, Wednesday, and Friday 10am – 5pm

Healthcare in Immigrant Detention:

Detained immigrants face barriers to accessing effective health care including institutional disregard for requests for medical care, access to vital medications and language access barriers. Individuals are regularly released from detention without discharge plans, medication, identification or clothing, even for those with diagnosed mental illnesses. Working in partnership with immigration legal service providers and community based advocates, HJ is using a multi-prong approach to address the conditions of confinement for individuals in immigration detention, and improve re-entry programming for those facing release.

HJ’s multi-pronged approach focuses on the following strategies: individual medical advocacy for currently and recently detained individuals; establishing a network of medical providers to strengthen advocacy efforts for detained or released individuals; cutting edge impact litigation; HJ is gathering stories and data, organizing convenings of community advocates and contributing to national reports on the issue to demand federal accountability, City Council hearings and social awareness around this issue. The combination of these strategies serve to hold ICE and the County run facilities that confine people in immigration detention accountable for providing ineffective health care.

    • Surviving Health Crisis - FlyerOn June 3rd, the Health Justice Program convened medical specialists, attorneys and community based organizations at Cardozo School of Law to develop advocacy strategy for individuals struggling to access healthcare in New York and New Jersey immigration detention facilities. Convening attendants engaged developed detailed strategies on how to engage medical specialists in advocacy efforts for those struggling to access health care in immigration detention facilities. These strategies will ultimately support local efforts to improve the conditions of confinement, and advocate for the release for detained individuals.


  • NYLPI brings constitutional challenge for failure to provide mental health discharge planning for people confined to immigration detention. Along with pro bono co-counsel Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP, NYLPI filed a case on July 12th in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York on behalf of two individuals with mental illnesses whose lives were endangered when Orange County Detention Center failed to follow its obligations to provide discharge planning.



Times Herald-Record Article

NYLPI Press Release

Politico Article

Laura Redman’s Politico Article Quote: “Orange County’s responsibility was to provide medical care for these individuals, not deny them their basic rights” said Laura Redman, director of NYLPI’s Health Justice Program. Discharge planning is actually part of providing medical care.”


NYLPI’s Health Justice Program released a report today documenting the serious, often life-threatening, deficiencies in the medical care provided to people detained in New York City-area immigration detention facilities. The facilities, County jails that contract with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), regularly failed to provide adequate medical care to those who were detained, violating their constitutional rights. People confined to immigration detention have the right to adequate health care. Our work has shown that ICE and the County jails are delaying and denying necessary and essential care – leading to devastating health consequences such as emergency surgery, delayed cancer diagnoses and worsening conditions of treatable diseases and pain. We hope this report shines a light on this population, a population of people we can only presume will increase as ICE raids happen across the country and President Trump promises more deportations.

Read the press release.

Read Director of Health Justice Laura Redman’s Op-Ed in the New York Daily News.

Read the coverage in Politico, Crain’s, NY1, and The Nation.


Developing Access to Healthcare Campaigns:

The HJ program recognizes the intersections of identity that create multiple barriers to quality and culturally proficient health care. HJ is developing strategies in coalition with other LGBTQ, health care, and legal services advocates to increase and streamline access to Medicaid for transgender individuals and monitor and explore advocacy strategies related to discrimination based upon gender identity in receipt of health care in public and private settings.
Working with community partners to promote the expansion of culturally competent, medically accurate, developmentally appropriate comprehensive sexual and reproductive health education for New York City youth—kindergarten through 12th grade.



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