Access to affordable, quality health care is highly uneven throughout nearly all of Latin America and varies widely among groups within the U.S. Latinos suffer disproportionately from a number of common ailments, many of which can be prevented or ameliorated with properly delivered care. Insufficient access to care and discriminatory health policies are compounded by non-health related public policies that have negative externalities for both immigrant and citizen populations.
Meanwhile, from climate change to depletion of natural resources, to contamination of air, water and soil, environmental degradation presents one of the greatest threats to human health and security in the Americas. Environmental change disproportionately affects low-income populations in Latin America as well as underserved Latino populations in the U.S. Confronting environmental challenges depends on the development of efficient and effective regulation systems and incentive structures as well as scientific and technological innovation. And the transnational nature of environmental problems often requires that solutions be global as well as regional and national in scope. The Center will serve as an incubator of cutting-edge ideas on how to address and adapt to changes in the physical environment, as well as a forum for scholars and practitioners from Latin America and the U.S. to consider appropriate responses.
Deportation and the Health of U.S. Latino Communities
Since the unveiling of the Secure Communities program under the Bush administration, the rate of deportations has increased at a staggering pace, reaching nearly 410,000 in 2012. Accounting for 97 percent of all deportations, Latino communities have been disproportionately affected by this steady increase in removals. Between July 2010 and September 2012, just under 205,000 parents of U.S. citizen children were deported, raising serious unaddressed questions about the wide-ranging and potentially long-term consequences of immigration enforcement policies on U.S. households. In collaboration with American University's Center on Health, Risk, and Society (CHRS), CLALS is currently developing a major research initiative to explore the health implications of deportation policies. (Learn more)
Strengthening Civil Society, Sustainable Livelihoods and the Environment in Ecuador
For centuries, Afro-descendant communities in northwestern Ecuador have made their living from the mangroves and forests, which are among the world's top ten biodiversity hotspots. In the past twenty years, however, road building, shrimp farming, intensive oil palm cultivation, and spillover from internal conflicts in Colombia have brought considerable changes and pressures to villagers' livelihoods throughout the region. Working directly with the area's Afro-Ecuadorian communities, this project applies participatory action research and community participatory methods. The chief goals are to evaluate community needs and identify long-term, sustainable employment options for people in the region. (Learn more)
Extractive Industries in Latin America: Challenges for Environmental Law, Regulation and Enforcement
As demand for fossil fuels and minerals has exploded globally in recent years, many Latin American governments have come to see extractive industries as central to their development prospects. Yet critics worry that many countries are failing to strike a balance between the economic benefits of extractive industry growth and the costs in terms of environmental degradation, community displacement and social conflict. To assess these concerns, CLALS and the WCL Program for International and Comparative Environmental Law convened a group of experts on April 8, 2011 to discuss the current legal and regulatory landscape and to identify areas of potential future research. (Learn more)