Expanding Access to Health Care for Newly Arrived Migrants
Special Projects Fund
September 25, 2023
More than 100,000 migrants and asylum seekers have arrived in New York City since spring 2022.
Most migrants arrive with nothing but the clothes on their backs. Among them are children who need vaccines to enroll in schools, pregnant women needing immediate prenatal care, and people with a host of other physical health conditions, mental health issues, and trauma. In response, New York City has opened a central arrival center and several resource navigation centers where migrants can access necessities and be connected to community-based organizations. Additionally, NYC Health + Hospitals is providing emergency care, basic health care, and immunizations. Despite these resources, migrants face barriers when navigating the complex health system. The City’s safety net and housing systems have also been pushed to a breaking point, its emergency shelter population topping 100,000 in summer 2023. City officials have sought to relieve the pressure by busing more than 2,200 migrants to Western New York, Albany, and the Mid-Hudson region, with plans to relocate others to the Finger Lakes. But poor coordination has left those areas scrambling to meet demand for services and has contributed to growing tensions. In 2023, NYHealth awarded Make the Road NY (MRNY) a grant to address the urgent health and mental health needs of newly arriving migrants and asylum seekers settling in New York. NYHealth is also supporting complementary initiatives with the New York Immigration Coalition and Terra Firma at Montefiore Medical Center.
Under this grant, MRNY will engage migrants and reach 6,000 asylum seekers at arrival centers in New York City, Long Island, and Westchester to provide health screening and connect them with health and mental health services, using bilingual community health workers. It will help new arrivals enroll in health insurance, schedule medical appointments at NYC Health + Hospital’s care clinics, and travel to appointments. MRNY will also connect them with other services including food, transportation, English classes, and workplace safety training, and conduct monthly Spanish-language know-your-rights workshops. Lastly, it will organize community forums and use feedback to advocate with local and State officials for the needs of asylum seekers.