Wendy E. Parmet is George J. and Kathleen Waters Matthews Distinguished Professor of Law and Professor of Public Policy and Urban Affairs at Northeastern University, where she directs the program on Health Policy & Law. She is the author of Populations, Public Health, and the Law.
They applied the “Page 99 Test” to their new book, The Health of Newcomers: Immigration, Health Policy, and the Case for Global Solidarity, and reported the following:
The Health of Newcomers: Immigration, Health Policy, and the Case for Global Solidarity explores the intersections between health and immigration, arguing that xenophobia distorts health policy and fear of disease confounds immigration policy. The book makes the case that because health is a public good, all societies have an ethical duty, as well as a pragmatic need, to protect the health of newcomers. In the end, we conclude that all people should act in solidarity with immigrants.Learn more about The Health of Newcomers at the NYU Press website.
Page 99 is part of a chapter, "Denying the Right to Health," that considers how nations that purport to respect a right to health treat immigrants. The chapter shows that most nations, including those we think of as providing universal health care, fail to ensure equal access to health care to at least some classes of immigrants. After establishing that international law creates a right to health, we ask on page 99: “What about noncitizen newcomers? Does the right to health apply to them?” We review several sources of international law, including the International Covenant on Economic and Social Rights (which the U.S. signed but did not ratify) and the United Nations Declaration on the Human Rights of Individuals Who are Not Nationals of the Country in Which They Live, and conclude that they affirm a nondiscrimination principle which states from denying marginalized populations equal access to health care and the conditions required for health. This principle, we argue, “would appear to apply to newcomers.” Nevertheless, in the pages that follow page 99, we explain that international law is somewhat ambivalent on this point. Other sources of international law provide cover to the common practice of discriminating against some class of non-citizen immigrants. Thus we can say both that the right to health applies to immigrants, but that it does not do so unequivocally.
This ambivalence in the treatment of immigrants with respect to health is one that appears in many arenas, as we document throughout the book. Everywhere we look we see both inclusion and exclusion, xenophobia and solidarity. These inconsistencies undermine the right to health; they also jeopardize the health of all.