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The Health Impacts of “Zero-Tolerance”

Jul 13, 2018

As an organization that advocates for systems and policies that promote health and well-being for all, Health Alliance International is proud to share and support the following statement made by the People’s Health Movement – USA in response to the US Government’s current “Zero-Tolerance” Immigration Policy.

Migrants and refugees leave harsh and dangerous conditions in their own countries to seek safety and a better life abroad. However, they are increasingly met with complex laws to navigate, discrimination, and inhumane treatment at international borders. We have seen migrants and refugees be turned away from Australia and detained and those who reach the EU be held in facilities in Greece and Italy. As these practices increase, the hope for refugees seeking asylum and migrants, who are often victims of forced displacement, dwindles.


The atrocities being perpetrated against migrants and refugees at the US border are inhumane, unacceptable, and representative of this pattern of discrimination and human rights violations against migrants and refugees around the world. Thousands of children have been separated from their parents with whom they entered the country with no guarantee of being permanently reunited or released. The long-term impact on the physical and mental health of these children cannot be overstated, as have noted doctors and mental health professionals who have denounced the practice. The “zero-tolerance” policy being implemented criminalizes the presence of asylum seekers in the country, denying them the right to international protection.


The People’s Health Movement-USA condemns this treatment of migrants and refugees in the strongest way, and we call for it to be stopped immediately. We cannot stand for policies that continue to violate US law, international law, and basic human rights and dignity.


We call for ICE to be abolished, for immediate reuniting of families, and for policies and law that respect the humanity and dignity of all people. We urge people to join mass movements occurring across the country, to contact your senators and representatives, and to support local organizations who are working to reunite families and end these hateful and inhumane practices.


We stand in solidarity with migrants, refugees, and displaced people in the US and around the world who seek better lives for themselves and their families and with the global movement to end the the discrimination and inhumane treatment they face.

Health Alliance International is an active member of the People’s Health Movement, which is founded on the principle that Health For All is a Human Right.  We stand with PHM in solidarity, and with the courageous individuals and institutions who are willing to help amplify the voices of migrants, refugees and displaced peoples around the world.


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Our Mission

Our mission is to promote policies and support programs that strengthen government primary health care and foster social, economic, and health equity for all. Our vision is a just world that promotes health and well-being, including universal access to quality health care.

Our History

Health Alliance International began in 1987 as a US-based international solidarity organization committed to supporting the public sector provision of health care for all.  Over 35 years, HAI conducted programs in 17 countries, with flagship programs in Mozambique, Côte d'Ivoire, and Timor-Leste.

Our Evolution

In line with HAI’s commitment to support and strengthen local public health leadership, as of October 2021, HAI fully transitioned global operations and active programs to locally-based, locally-led NGOs. Learn more about this shift toward local autonomy and equity in global health.

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