Immigration and Mental Health

Myths and Facts

  •  Myth: Jobs filled by immigrants, particularly those who are undocumented, take away job opportunities for unemployed Americans
  •  Fact: Immigrants typically do not compete for jobs with native born workers. In addition, they create jobs as entrepreneurs, consumers and taxpayers[i] [ii] [iii]
  • Myth: Undocumented immigrants do not pay taxes
  • Fact: Undocumented immigrants pay billions of dollars each year in taxes, often for benefits they will never receive[iv]
  • Myth: Immigrants drive down the wages for American workers
  • Fact: Immigrants give a slight boost to the wages of most Americans by increasing their productivity and stimulating investment.[v]
  • Myth: Immigrants come to the US to take receive welfare benefits
  • Fact: Undocumented immigrants are not eligible for federal public benefit programs, and authorized immigrants face stringent eligibility restrictions.[vi]
  • Myth: Immigrants are more likely to commit crimes than U.S. natives.
  • Fact: Immigrants have lower incarceration rates than native-born Americans. [vii] States with the highest immigration growth rates also have the lowest crime rates. [viii]


  • There is an increase of tighter restrictions on individuals wishing to live in the U.S.
  • Higher immigration requirements jeopardize the woman’s ability to qualify because they do not have the same opportunities for education and skilled jobs in their native country
  • Increased restrictions result in greater financial burden to pay both higher number and higher fees
  • Family members are often separated for years
  • Individuals are barred from receiving benefits for five years even though they pay taxes
  • Undocumented workers seeking employment are in the precarious position of being abused by their employer who threaten them with deportation if they file a complaint

 Asian American immigration[x]:

  • According to the 2010 Census, Asian Americans are the fastest growing ethnic group in the United States with a 46% increase between 2000 and 2010.
  • There are 18.2 million Asian Americans who comprise 6% of the total US population
  • 60% are foreign born
  • The great diversity between Asian American subpopulations in levels of education and income is often masked when APIs are reported as a homogeneous population
  • Of the 11.6 million undocumented individuals, 1.4 are from Asian countries
  • It is estimated that close to half of all immigrants who are “illegal” came on a legal visa then let it expire, sometimes unaware that this had occurred. It is uncertain how many Asians fall into this category.

Mental Health issues:

  • Immigration is in and of itself an emotionally stressful situation, resulting in loss of status, trying to adjust to life in a new country and intergenerational conflict. Challenges faced by unfair policies and practices only contribute to the emotional turmoil for the immigrant Asian population.
  • The backlog of individuals wishing to immigrate results in years of separation between family members. Needless to say this creates tremendous emotional strain for the entire family. It also destroys the basic fabric of Asian cultures which relies on strong family ties.
  • The additional emotional strain to pay high fees to become citizens adds to an already stressful situation.
  • Ongoing stress can result in poorer performance at work or school and can negatively impact a person’s overall health.
  • The fear of deportation is a daily threat that can create serious emotional trauma. This holds true for those who are fully documented but may have family members who are not
  • Undocumented workers are at great risk for being abused by employers and feel they have no recourse to protect themselves.
  • Even those who are documented but have limited English proficiency are at risk of being abused by those who take advantage of their situation
  • While DREAM Act youth are being protected by this administration, they are still at risk for deportation because of those who are still see them as “illegal” and are working to have them removed.

[i] Pia Orrenius and Madeline Zavodny, From Brawn to Brains: How Immigration Works for America, 2010 Annual Report (Dallas, TX: Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, 2010), p. 6-7, ar10b.pdf#page=3.

[ii] See Immigration Policy Center, The Economic Blame Game: U.S. Unemployment is Not Caused by Immigration (Washington, DC: American Immigration Council, November 19, 2009), <http://www.immigrationpolicy. org/sites/default/files/docs/Economic_Blame_ Game_111909_0.pdf>.

[iii] The White House, Economic Report of the President, February 2005, p. 107,

[iv] Social Security Administration, FY 2010 Performance and Accountability Report, November 2010, p. 178

[v] Giovanni Peri, Rethinking the Effects of Immigration on Wages: New Data and Analysis from 1990-2004 (Washington, DC: Immigration Policy Center, American Immigration Law Foundation, October 2006), p. 6,

[vi] National Immigration Law Center, Overview of Immigrant Eligibility for Federal Programs (Washington, DC: October 2010), <

[vii] Federal Bureau of Investigation, Uniform Crime Reporting Statistics, UCR Data Online, < Crime/State/StatebyState.cfm>.

[viii] Richard Nadler, Immigration and the Wealth of States (Overland Park, KS: Americas Majority Foundation: January 2008), p. 9,




  • Analysis of Senate Immigration Reform Bill, Title II: Immigrant Visas. National Immigration Law Center. April 24, 2013
  • Asian Americans and Family-Sponsored Immigration, Asian American Justice Center Fact Sheet
  • AAJC Fact Sheet: White House Proposal for Immigration Reform, Asian American Justice Center
  • Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders Principles for Comprehensive Immigration Reform. National Council of Asian Pacific Americans.
  • Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013 (S.744), the bill. U.S. Senate. April 16, 2013
  • Immigration Alert: Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013 (S.744). Morgan Lewis. April 19, 2013
  • Immigration: Myths and Facts. Labor, Immigration and Employee Benefits Division of U.S. Chamber of Commerce, 2011
  • Immigration Policy Reform Values and Goals. National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum.
  • Outline of the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013 (S.744). U.S. Senate. April 16, 2013
  • Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996. 42 USC 1305 note.
  • Reuniting Families. Asian American Justice Center.
  • Watson, T. Eliminating F3/married children and F4/sibling category in immigration reform?
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NAAPIMHA Partners with NAPA and Active Mind for AAPI Mental Health Awareness

NAAPIMHA, the National Asian Pacific Islander American Panhellenic Association (NAPA), and Active Minds are excited to announce a new partnership to bring mental health education and awareness to Asian and Asian-American students on college campuses. Through the Friends DO Make a Difference initiative, collegiate chapters of NAPA will have access to programming and resources to promote mental health, reduce stigma, and encourage help-seeking in a community that may face cultural and language barriers when accessing treatment.

“We identified that mental health is a significant and unaddressed issue for many of our member organizations,” said Brian Gee, Executive Chair of NAPA. “We are excited to partner with two prominent organizations in the field of mental health to equip the collegiate leaders we represent with skills and knowledge needed to recognize and refer peers who might be struggling.”

“Research has shown that Asian students on campus with mental health problems are significantly less likely to be receiving treatment than their peers in other racial/ethnic groups,” said Sara Abelson, Senior Director of Programs at Active Minds. The Friends DO Make A Difference initiative aims to have NAPA members start a series of dialogues and activities on a range of topics, recognizing that mental health is a part of their everyday lives. NAPA chapters participating in the Friends DO Make a Difference initiative will train chapter officers and advisors to identify signs and symptoms of mental health concerns and host events with their membership to connect them to mental health resources on campus. Upon completion of mental health training and programming, chapters will be recognized with a Friends DO Make a Difference Seal of Distinction.

“The Friends campaign was designed to raise awareness of mental health among Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander students. The hope is to make campuses a safe place to talk about key issues as students learn how to support each other. We are excited to work closely with NAPA and Active Minds to develop student leaders who will advocate on behalf of mental health,” said DJ Ida, Executive Director of NAAPIMHA. “By working with the next generation of leaders, we hope to reduce stigma and open positive dialogue about mental health for years to come.”

“We are excited to partner with NAPA and NAAPIMHA to reach an important and often underserved community of students when it comes to mental health awareness,” said Sara Abelson, Senior Director of Programs at Active Minds. The Friends DO Make a Difference initiative will support Active Minds’ mission to empower students to speak openly about mental health in order to educate others and encourage help seeking.
About the National Asian Pacific Islander American Panhellenic Association

About NAPA:

The National Asian Pacific Islander American Panhellenic Association (NAPA) is an association of collegiate fraternities and sororities with an interest in culture and serving the APIA community. The organization serves to advocate the needs of its member organizations and provides a forum to share ideas and resources within its members. NAPA supports the development of positive relations through open communication with interfraternal partners to enrich the fraternal experience. Learn more at

About Active Minds, Inc.

Active Minds is the young adult voice in mental health advocacy. By supporting a rapidly growing network of hundreds of student-led chapters at colleges and universities, Active Minds empowers students to speak openly about mental health in order to educate others and encourage help-seeking. Active Minds is a national nonprofit headquartered in Washington D.C. Follow us on Twitter @Active_Minds. For more information visit:

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The Affordable Care Act and Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders

The Affordable Care Act and Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders

The Affordable Care Act will help make health insurance coverage more affordable and accessible for millions of Americans. For Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, like other racial and ethnic minorities, the law will address inequities in health care and increase access to quality, affordable health coverage, invest in prevention and wellness, and give individuals and families more control over their care.

Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are impacted by health and health care differently than the general population. Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders tend to be less affected than other groups by certain cancers, but also are less likely to get screened for cancer. For example, in 2010, Asian American women over 18 years of age were least likely to have had a Pap test (68.0 percent) compared with other women: non-Hispanic white (72.8 percent), non-Hispanic black (77.4 percent), Hispanic/Latino (73.6 percent), American Indian/Alaska Native (73.4 percent). Additionally in 2008, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders ages 19 through 24 were 1.6 times more likely to have Hepatitis B than non-Hispanic whites[1]. Expanding opportunities for coverage can improve health outcomes for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.
Already, the Affordable Care Act has benefitted the nearly 85% of Americans who already have insurance:

• 3.1 million young adults have gained coverage through the parents’ plans

• 6.6 million seniors are paying less for prescription drugs

• 105 million Americans are paying less for preventative care and no longer face lifetime coverage limits

• 13.1 million Americans have received rebates from insurance companies

• 17 million children with pre-existing conditions no longer denied coverage or charged extra

The Affordable Care Act will provide nearly 2 million uninsured Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders an opportunity to get affordable health insurance coverage. The following provides an overview of the coverage and benefits available to Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders today and those made possible in 2014 by the Health Insurance Marketplace beginning..

Happening Now:

• An estimated 3.8 million Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders with private insurance now have access to expanded preventive services with no-cost sharing. These services include well-child visits, blood pressure and cholesterol screenings, Pap tests and mammograms for women, and flu shots for children and adults.

• The 867,000 elderly and disabled Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders who receive health coverage from Medicare also have access to many preventive services with no cost-sharing, including annual wellness visits with personalized prevention plans, diabetes and colorectal cancer screening, bone mass measurement and mammograms.

• 121,000 young Asian American adults between ages 19 and 25 who would have been uninsured now have coverage under their parent’s employer-sponsored or individually purchased health plan.

• Major federal investments to improve quality of care are improving management of chronic diseases that are more prevalent among Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.

• Investments in data collection and research will help us better understand the causes of health care disparities and develop effective programs to eliminate them.

• Targeted interventions, such as Community Transformation Grants, will promote healthy lifestyles, lower health care costs, and reduce health disparities.

• Increased funding available to the more than 1,100 community health centers will increase the number of patients served. Health centers provide culturally competent and linguistically appropriate care.

Coming Soon:

• Nearly 2 million uninsured Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders will have new opportunities for coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace. Of the nearly 2 million uninsured Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders who are eligible for coverage through the Marketplace, 50 percent are men.

• The Marketplace is a destination where consumers can compare insurance options in simple, easy to understand language. At the Marketplace, consumers will be able to compare insurance options based on price, benefits, quality and other factors with a clear picture of premiums and cost-sharing amounts to help them choose the insurance that best fits their needs.

• Consumers may be eligible for free or low cost coverage, or advance premium tax credits that lower monthly premiums right away. Individuals with higher incomes (up to 400 percent of the federal poverty level, or $94,200 for a family of four) will be eligible to purchase subsidized coverage from the Health Insurance Marketplace.

• States have new opportunities to expand Medicaid coverage to include Americans with family incomes at or below 133 percent of the federal poverty level (generally $31,322 for a family of four in 2013). This expansion includes adults without dependent children living at home, who have not previously been eligible in most states.

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