Arizona and undocumented immigrants fearing retribution for seeking vaccination

Crystel, 15 months, cries as she gets a vaccination from nurse Cinthya Chumpitaz during a Yale Clinic for Hispanic Children visit. Holding Crystel is her mom, Audelina./Melanie Stengel / Contributed photo

By Marco della Cava, Daniel Gonzalez and Rebecca Plevin | USA TODAY

As the COVID-19 vaccine makes its way throughout the United States, immigration activists and lawmakers are rallying to ensure that the 11 million undocumented immigrants at the heart of the nation’s food production and service industry sectors are not left out.

Experts say it is unlikely that health officials will discriminate against undocumented Americans. But after years of isolationist and punitive immigration policies from the Trump administration, many immigrants — whose physical and fiscal health has, along with many people of color, been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic —  might be unwilling to come forward and get vaccinated. 

“We don’t want to take the risk if it’s going to cause us problems,” such as deportation, says Beatriz Gutierrez, 36, a stay-at-home mother of four ages 9 to 17 in Phoenix. “But otherwise, I am ready to take it.”

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