Immigrants are an integral part of Asian American and Pacific Islander families and communities.

As the fastest growing ethnic group in the country, Asian Americans make up 27% of all foreign-born immigrants in the US. We – our parents and grandparents, relatives, and extended family members, pillars in our homes and communities – have had to navigate a convoluted and outdated bureaucracy to arrive in the US after waiting years if not decades.

For immigrant families who have been in this country for generations, it was no different for our ancestors. Chinese American laborers built the transcontinental railroad under dangerous conditions yet did not receive equal pay or recognition. Many Asians found their way around racist exclusion laws even as industries came to rely on exploiting our status for cheap labor.

The United States has always depended on immigrant workers but never given us our due. Immigrants today, in particular undocumented people, often live in fear of deportation, lack access to health care services, and face multiple forms of violence and discrimination. More than 12 million Asian American and 220,000 Pacific Islander immigrants live in the US. 

  • Between 2010 and 2017, the Asian American immigrant population grew 23 percent, more than twice as fast as the entire immigrant population (11 percent) and more than four times as fast as the overall population (5 percent).
  • Asians are predicted to be the largest immigrant group in the country by 2055.
  • The Asian undocumented population has more than tripled within 15 years. Asian undocumented immigrants make up 16 percent of undocumented immigrants in the US.

NAPAWF is advocating for immigrants so that families can be together and healthy – regardless of the status they have been granted.

For AAPI women and families, being able to get health care, including preventive, routine, and critical health services, too often depends on our immigration status.

Under current law, immigrants with lawful permanent resident (LPR, or “green card”) status must wait five years before they are eligible to enroll in Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). Undocumented immigrants are ineligible to obtain health services through Medicaid or through private health insurance through the Affordable Care Act (ACA) health insurance exchanges.

Immigrant Access to Health Care

Every person deserves affordable health care regardless of their status or how long they have been in the US.

The current health and immigration systems are failing families living in the U.S. by placing unnecessary and discriminatory restrictions on their ability to access quality health care. 

The HEAL Act

NAPAWF advocates for the passage of The Health Equity and Access under the Law (HEAL) for Immigrant Women and Families Act in the U.S. Congress. The HEAL Act would alleviate many of the obstacles preventing immigrant families from accessing affordable health care. It ensures access to health coverage for immigrants by:

  • Restoring Medicaid and CHIP eligibility to lawfully present immigrants, regardless of their date of entry; 
  • Removing the unjustifiable exclusion of undocumented immigrants from accessing health insurance coverage on the ACA’s health insurance marketplaces;
  • Ensuring access to public and affordable health coverage for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals; and
  • Reinstating Medicaid eligibility for COFA citizens.

The HEAL Act removes the legal and policy barriers to affordable health care that disproportionately harm immigrant women. Restoring access to basic health care for immigrant women enables them to make decisions about their bodies, their lives, and their communities with dignity. Read more about the HEAL Act here.


The NAPAWF Team publishes factsheets, reports, and other resources with information about AANHPI immigrant communities.