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Afraid to get baby formula: Immigrants fear Trump policies

The Trump Administration’s crackdown on undocumented immigrants is causing some people to avoid seeking medical care.  Public Health Seattle-King County is taking steps to reassure patients.

When clients come to Public Health’s Eastgate clinic, for example, they’ll notice a blue sign on the front door that reads: “Our facility is for clients, their families, their guests, employees and other authorized people. This a designated private area.”

TJ Cosgrove is the agency’s director of community health services. He said they put up the sign recently. They’ve heard from clients and patients who’ve delayed coming to the clinic for fear they’d get picked up by federal immigration agents.

"We have stories, such as a mother who was desperate for formula,” Cosgrove said, “and waited until the very last moment to come in and get her baby formula … because she was afraid to come in.”  

In addition to the signs, clinic staff are getting trained on how to identify valid search warrants. Cosgrove says it’s unlikely that ICE agents would come to the clinic, but they want to make sure staff are prepared, just in case.

But the most important goal, Cosgrove said, is the health of the community. When it comes to communicable disease or untreated illnesses, removing barriers to care is just as crucial. 

Year started with KUOW: 1994