Clinics see drop of illegal immigrants over fears of deportation

Local clinic sees drop in some patients due to immigration fear

DALLAS -- Typically the Barrios Unidos Community Clinic is full but this Friday the chairs are empty.

"The fear is very real,” said Claudia Espinoza, a counselor at the clinic. "We have had no shows. I've had some patients say, 'I'm fearful to leave my house.'"

The clinic was founded to help people in the Latino community, especially immigrants who can't afford health care.

They provide everything from immunizations to prenatal care to behavioral counseling for things like PTSD.

"We do believe health care is universal it doesn't matter," Espinoza said. "We don't ask immigration status. That is not taken into consideration."

Espinoza is a counselor at the clinic and recalled a conversation she had with a teenage girl, who fears her parents will be deported while she's at school.

"'I know I may come home and my parents are going to be taken way,' and here she is having a full blown panic attack," Espinoza said.

The clinic says it's posting a video on its website Monday telling people they don't check immigration status so coming to the clinic is safe.

It's the same problem domestic violence shelters say they're seeing.

Last week, we reported that shelters are also seeing a drop in women who are illegal coming forward for services.

Social workers, clinics and shelters say it doesn't matter how people feel about immigration, having people healthy and safe benefits everyone.

Copyright 2016 WFAA


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