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How your clinic can resist unlawful ICE activity

November 1, 2017

Edited by Ashley Slupski

Adapted from the National Immigration Law Center

Hospitals, clinic and other health care settings have a role to play in protecting undocumented communities. 

Here’s what health care administrators should do to provide the best environment to protect the rights of patients and providers:

  • Establish a written policy designating private areas and areas closed to the public. Limit access to certain areas only to those who are receiving or providing care, or who are otherwise necessary. 

  • Beware of what’s in “public view.” Be cautious of what information is in open view of the public, such as files visible from the visitors’ side of the reception desk.

  • Avoid collecting immigration status information. If you must collect such information for a patient, avoid including that information in the patient’s medical and billing records.

  • Provide posters and educational materials advising patients that they have the right (a) to refuse to answer questions from immigration agents and other law enforcement and (b) to insist that their lawyer be present if they are questioned.

  • Establish a relationship with a local immigration lawyer or attorney, who can be available if an enforcement officer comes to the clinic.

  • Designate a specific staffer as authorized and responsible for handling contacts with law enforcement officers.

  • Don’t consent; document. If immigration officers ask permission, or attempt, to enter a private area, the designated person should state explicitly that they do not consent to the officer(s) entering without a warrant.

  • Review warrants carefully. Remind all patients and other individuals present that they have the right not to answer any questions, other than providing their real name.

  • Reassure your patients. Educate and reassure patients that their health care information is protected by federal and state laws.

Immigration enforcement policies and practices under President Trump’s administration are evolving. This post reflects our understanding based on what we know now. Arm your staff and your patients with the knowledge they need to protect everyone’s right to obtain health care.

Want more information? Visit National Immigration Law Center’s hub for health care providers.

Categorized under Advocacy, Inside Story and National.

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