Central America Asylum Seekers’ Health, Self-Sufficiency, and Integration Outcomes During the Asylum Claim Process Phase in Phoenix, Arizona
The purpose of this study is threefold: highlight the present health, self-sufficiency and integration needs and assets of asylum seekers in Phoenix, Arizona during the asylum seeking process phase (while an asylum claim is awaiting a decision); understand the City of Phoenix’s response to asylum seekers; and contextualize and compare the city’s present response to increased arrivals of asylum seekers against municipal responses in other contexts and academic discussions of the “local turn.”. Through semi-structured in-depth interviews with asylum seekers and community leaders, this study finds that asylum seekers’ physiological healthcare needs are sometimes met through emergency department admissions and referrals to sliding scale services by caseworkers in the International Rescue Committee’s Asylum-Seeking Families program in Phoenix. Mental and behavioral health service needs are less likely to be met, especially for women who want to speak with a medical professional about their traumatic experiences in Central America, trip through Mexico, detention in the United States (U.S.) and their often-marginalized lives in the U.S. This dissertation concomitantly explores how other municipalities in the U.S. and internationally have responded to increased immigration of asylum seekers and refugees to urban centers, and how certain approaches could be adopted in the City of Phoenix to better serve asylum seekers.