A new Yale study reveals that President Trump’s ‘Muslim ban’ negatively affected the health of Muslim Americans.
In January 2017, President Donald J. Trump signed an executive order banning foreign nationals from seven predominantly Muslim countries from visiting the country for 90 days and suspending refugee entry to the country, the ACLU outlines. It resulted in incredible hardship for families unable to visit loved ones for years. The executive order has been widely condemned as unconstitutional and unjust.
The ACLU believes the injustice is reminiscent of other stains on the United States government’s history that similarly discriminated against Asians and other minorities. For example, Executive Order 9066 called for the internment of Japanese Americans and the Chinese Exclusion Act restricted the immigration of Chinese workers in 1822.
Since its inception, the travel ban has gone through multiple iterations and lawsuits, which only compounded the stress for Muslim Americans, before finally being revoked by President Biden in January 2021.
The study, published on JAMA Network Open medical journal, questioned: “Was the 2017 ‘Muslim ban’ executive order associated with changes in health care utilization by people born in Muslim-majority countries living in Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota?” It stands as one of the first studies examining the causal effect of the Muslim travel ban on the wellbeing of Muslim Americans or individuals from Muslim-majority countries.
Researchers examined 252,594 people from Muslim-majority countries living in Minneapolis-St. Paul. Prior to the ban, the number of doctor visits were increasing for Americans from Muslim-majority nations. However, in the year following the ban, there was approximately 101 unexpectedly missed primary care appointments from people of Muslim majority countries not named in the ban.
There was also 232 additional emergency department visits by people of the ban’s target countries than what would be expected. The changes in health care use amongst these individuals may indicate changes in the broader population’s health, as influenced by federal immigration policy.
Yale School of Public Health Associate Professor Gregg Gonsalves, the study’s senior author, tells Yale News, “This offers support to the thesis that the Islamophobia fostered by former President Trump affected the health of Muslim Americans in the United States and that immigration policies can have indirect and unexpected consequences for those targeted by such actions.”
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