Immigrant-focused medical legal partnerships: A practical innovation to improve immigrant health and social well-being

Online Publication Date:
March 21, 2022
Publication Status:
Published Article MUSE Link:
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**Published in Progress in Community Health Partnerships (PCHP) 17.1. All rights reserved.** ABSTRACT The Problem: Immigration status is an important social determinant of health that can limit access to healthcare and related services. Few medical legal partnerships (MLPs) address immigration-related legal needs of patients. Purpose of Article: An immigrant-focused medical legal partnership (IMLP) addresses immigration legal needs and provides advice to vulnerable patient-clients and their families regarding potential legal consequences of accessing healthcare and other public benefits. In this article, we outline the core elements of an IMLP and provide case examples from our ongoing IMLPs. Key Points: Although many of the core elements of an IMLP are similar to those of an MLP, an IMLP focuses specifically on immigration-related legal needs of patient-clients. IMLPs can complement and extend MLP services by providing legal assistance to non-citizen immigrant individuals and mixed status families. Conclusion: IMLPs may improve immigrant patient-clients’ health and social well-being and create eligibility for public benefits. An IMLP can be a scalable innovation to improve access to health and legal services. Challenges to institutionalizing an IMLP may include limited sustainable funding, few legal service providers with immigration expertise and capacity, patient-client identification, and the politicized nature of immigration.