Date of Award

January 2024

Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Medical Doctor (MD)



First Advisor

Naomi Rogers


In the US, undocumented immigrants are barred from receiving coverage from the federal government for healthcare other than emergency services. States can offer government-funded health insurance to undocumented immigrants, but as of 2021, only six had. Forces standing in the way of other states implementing such coverage include nativism, racism, and fears about immigrants taking scarce jobs during economic downturns.In 2021, Connecticut passed S.B. 956, a bill extending Medicaid coverage to all low-income children up to the age of eight—regardless of immigration status—starting in 2023. This policy was the culmination of a twelve-year-old grassroots movement started by Connecticut Students for a Dream, a youth advocacy organization that fights for the rights of undocumented immigrants. Due to the recency of these events, little has been written about the movement that made S.B. 956 possible and the sociopolitical forces they were up against. The objective of this thesis to uncover the political history of S.B. 956 and highlight lessons that can be used by advocates across the country to promote health justice for this marginalized population. This thesis is a mixed-methods work involving analysis of government documents, secondary literature, and interviews with major actors. Primary sources include Connecticut General Assembly records, such as transcripts and videos of public hearings, as well as submitted written testimony. Interviewees include local activists and cosponsors of S.B. 956. Undocumented immigrants experience physical suffering, financial stress, and anxiety about the future due to lack of healthcare, especially regarding chronic illnesses and COVID-19. Despite obstacles including anti-immigrant sentiments and state budget constraints, a broad coalition of activists and legislators passed Medicaid coverage for undocumented children by using personal relationships to organize.


This is an Open Access Thesis.

Open Access

This Article is Open Access