Request For Abstracts – Border Health and Immigration

Deadline: August 31, 2020
Preparation and formatting guidelines
Submit abstracts via our online submission form

Queries: [email protected]

Health Affairs is planning a theme issue on border health and immigration, to be published in July 2021. We plan to publish approximately 20 peer-reviewed articles including original research, analyses, and commentaries from leading researchers, scholars, analysts, and health care stakeholders. Health Affairs thanks the California Health Care Foundation and the Con Alma Health Foundation for their generous support of this issue. 

A public health crisis is unfolding along and inside the U.S.-Mexico border. Immigrants arriving at the U.S. border are likely to have experienced political, economic, or interpersonal violence prior to their arrival, leading to unmet mental health and physical health needs. Immigrants detained at the border may face crime and violence in border towns as they await trial in the U.S., or prolonged stays in detention centers and family separations if they are able to cross the border. Immigrants in the U.S. face health challenges that extend well beyond the border.

Our issue will describe the nature of the crisis and supply new data analysis and commentary on how to address these challenges, as well as the disproportionate health burden borne by immigrants. The issue will enhance the national dialogue and draw attention to critical health policy issues by providing timely, evidence-based analyses to leaders and decision makers in the public and private sectors. We welcome submissions from authors throughout North and Central America who are studying the various dimensions of this issue, the policies involved, and their implications. We are also interested in work based on binational health data and research that incorporates the community perspective, such as community-based participatory research.

We view this as an opportunity not only to publish the latest scholarship in this area, but also to consider forward-looking pieces to help shape the future agenda on this topic, including identifying appropriate leadership roles for the public and private sectors.

We primarily seek empirical work–original research, systematic reviews, well-designed case studies–that presents evidence and analysis aimed at contributing to our knowledge. Papers should have a strong policy orientation, and we will put a premium on work that supports future planning and decision making. We are interested in reports of successful and failed initiatives and will also consider a small number of commentaries and overview papers to supplement the empirical work and provide context.


We invite all interested authors to submit abstracts for consideration for this issue. Editors will review the abstracts and, for those that best fit our vision and goals for the issue, invite authors to submit full papers for consideration for the issue.

In order to be considered, abstracts must be submitted no later than 11:59PM Eastern timeAugust 31, 2020. We regret that we will not be able to consider any abstracts submitted after that date. Abstracts must be submitted via our abstract submission portal—abstracts submitted via other channels will not be considered.

Topics and areas of interest include the following:

Immigration System and Health

  • Current trends, context, and recent policy developments affecting immigrants and refugees
  • Systemic, political, and ethical challenges, such as detention and family separation, sanctuary cities, and deportation
  • Role of Medicaid, emergency Medicaid, five-year bar, public charge, and other intersecting policies that affect access to care

Health Status in the U.S.-Mexico Border Region

  • Demographics and disease burden
  • Binational public health priorities, data, policies, and programs
  • Intersection of border enforcement activities and health
  • Vulnerability to infectious diseases, including COVID-19, and environmental health threats
  • Violence (political, criminal, structural, and other forms), mental health, and trauma
  • Tribal health at the border

Health Systems and Access to Health Services

  • Effects of ethnicity, citizenship, and legal status on access to health care and coverage, including chilling effects and consequences for mixed-status families
  • Role of the public safety net
  • Role of health care providers, outreach organizations, and government
  • Strategies for increasing access to coverage and health services, such as coverage for undocumented immigrants, language and cultural services, and telehealth
  • Immigrants’ role in the U.S. health care workforce
  • Reintegration of deportees into the Mexican health system
  • Lessons from border health in other countries and U.S. territories

Health of Immigrants

  • Existence of health disparities
  • Effects of discrimination and structural forms of racism
  • Role of politics in immigrant and Latinx health
  • Acculturation and health outcomes
  • Physical and mental health of immigrant children
  • Community organizing around immigrant health

Root Causes of Migration and Factors Affecting Immigration and Health

  • Climate change and migration
  • Globalization/international trade
  • Border security
  • Cross-border health care
  • Medical tourism

This list is not exhaustive. We are interested in alternative ways to think about this issue, additional topics, and cross-cutting themes. We are also interested in ideas about perspectives and commentaries to include in the issue, as well as a possible Narrative Matters article.


The editors will evaluate submitted abstracts and, in mid-September, will invite authors of selected abstracts to submit their work for consideration for the issue. Invited papers will be due at the journal by January 15, 2021.

Following submission, full manuscripts will undergo peer review and revision between January and May 2021. Copyediting and production for the issue will take place in June 2021, with publication scheduled for July 2021. 


Abstract submissions should not exceed 500 words. Please consult our online guidelines for additional formatting instructions and answers to frequently asked questions.

Submit abstracts via our online submission form

We thank you for your time and consideration. Please feel free to pass this invitation along to colleagues who might be interested, as well.

If you have questions about this request, please e-mail us at [email protected].

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