Documenting DREAMers: Challenges in Health Access among Undocumented Asian and Pacific Islanders in Northern California

Investigator: May Sudhinaraset, PhD
Sponsor: UCSF Resource Allocation Program (RAP)

Location(s): United States


Currently there are 1.8 million undocumented young people in the US who are eligible for a new federal program that grants them the right to live and work lawfully in the US. These individuals are known as the “DREAMers.” While the Affordable Care Act will expand health coverage to over 32 million individuals, it will purposefully exclude 11.7 million undocumented immigrants – including DREAMers. California is an exception, where low-income DREAMers are now eligible to receive health coverage through the state’s Medi-Cal program. California therefore offers a unique opportunity to study this growing but hidden population to determine how expansion of state funding will influence their health utilization patterns. Despite these DREAMers being a major public policy interest, there is a critical knowledge gap regarding who these people are and their health behaviors. Furthermore, while the majority of the migration literature in the US focuses on Latinos, there is tremendous heterogeneity across immigrant groups – including within Asian and Pacific Islanders (APIs). In fact, a significant demographic shift is occurring where APIs are now the fastest growing immigrant population in the US. Despite this, there is a dearth of information on API immigrants, particularly young immigrants. Building upon a study on Latino DREAMers, this study will be the first to investigate the health status and utilization patterns of undocumented APIs living in Northern California, and will compare and contrast Latino and API DREAMers to understand cross-national health inequities. Findings will inform health policy interventions for undocumented immigrants.