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Undocumented Immigrants and
The American Safety Net
Professor Dayna Bowen Matthew
University of Colorado Law School
October 17, 2012
Words Intended to Inspire
“Our history tells us that immigration in the American
story has always been controversial – associated
always with both benefits and costs . . . When these
death-bringing European immigrants became
Americans by birth, their own response to further
immigration was mixed.”
Otis L. Graham, “The
Unfinished Reform”
Words Intended to Inspire
“Immigrants’ search for a better life is one of the most
basic desires of human beings. Many undocumented
workers have walked mile after mile, through the heat of
the day and the cold of night. Some have risked their
lives in dangerous desert border crossings, or entrusted
their lives to the brutal . . . . Fearful, often abused, and
(January 2004)
President George W. Bush
Complex Composition of
1 – 1.5 Million
25%-40% Lost
Legal Status
for 6 million
Citizen Children
12 Million
Common Group Identity Model
Cognitive social psychology theory that offers
new tools for realigning falsely competing
interests that underlie current health care and
immigration law.
Common Group Identity Model
Three Principles To Direct Health Law and Policy Reform
– Principle #1 - Social Categorization is fundamental to
human functioning and perception
– Principle #2 - Identify the Costs of Social Categorization as
pertaining to Undocumented Immigrants
Common Group Identity Model
Third Principle To Direct Health Law and Policy Reform
• Negative attitudes and conduct towards out-group members
can be modified
• Re-organize in-group membership to reflect common identity
• Re-Frame messaging to create “superordinate groups”
comprised of wage-earners and their advocates for improved
working conditions, reasonable hand retirement benefits, and
health policy that emphasizes public health
Women’s Rights
Immigration Rights