New study from the University of Michigan Health System finds that most U.S. adults believe undocumented immigrant children should have equal access to healthcare. Reuters

A new survey from the University of Michigan Health System has yielded some interesting findings regarding what Americans think about healthcare and undocumented immigrant children. According to the recent survey, many U.S. adults believe that access to healthcare should be provided to undocumented immigrant children on the same level that it is provided for U.S.-born children.

In fact, nearly half of those surveyed -- 42 percent, to be exact -- responded that they "agree" or "strongly agree" that children that are undocumented and born in the country should have the same access to healthcare. The same survey -- which was a part of the University of Michigan National Voices Project and Michigan Immigrant Rights Center -- found that 25 percent were "unsure" and 33 percent "disagreed" or "strongly disagreed."

"Partnering with the National Voices Project gave us the opportunity to see how well people who work with children on a daily basis understand what immigrant children in the U.S. face," says Susan Reed, supervising attorney at the Michigan Immigrant Rights Center, in a university press statement. "While we saw strong support for the health and welfare of all kids, there is still significant work to be done when it comes to ensuring that immigrant children specifically have equal access to the care they need."

"What we're seeing right now surrounding healthcare for the immigrant population is gridlock because there are millions of children in our communities who are unable to receive necessary healthcare due to their immigration status," added Reed. "If the healthcare access issue isn't resolved, it could entrench a generation of children in poverty and health disparity."

There were variations seen in the survey based on the racial identity of the respondent. For instance, 61 percent of Hispanic responded agreed or strongly agreed that undocumented children should have equal access, while 53 percent of multi-race/other respondents, 46 percent of African American respondents, and 37 percent of non-Hispanic white respondents felt the same way.

"These findings echo what we've seen in previous National Voices Project surveys about opportunities for children and teens," says Matthew M. Davis, M.D., M.A.P.P., director of the National Voices Project and a pediatrician at the University of Michigan's C.S. Mott Children's Hospital. "Adults who see racial or ethnic inequities in their communities tend to more favorably endorse policies that would work toward improving opportunities for the children and teens they work with."

Healthcare is a significant concern for the Hispanic and Latino community in the United States, as the Pew Research Center recently found it to be one of the top four issues in the community. This, coupled with the fact that since last October, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection recorded taking into custody 47,017 unaccompanied children under the age of 18, showcases the importance of addressing the matter of healthcare for undocumented children.

"Access to affordable healthcare for children in the U.S. -- both immigrant children and U.S.-born children -- is a national issue that impacts all of us," says Davis. "Providing children access to timely preventive care including vaccines, dental care, primary care, and management of chronic illnesses such as asthma has a remarkable impact on their long-term health and well-being and their ability to learn and participate in our communities."

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