Skip to main content

Healthy immigrant paradox focus of ASU conference

William Vega speaking at podium
March 24, 2014

The secret to long life could be found among immigrants from other countries. Studies indicate that new immigrants from around the world – many from poverty-stricken nations – experience better health and live longer than native-born Americans.

This phenomenon is the focus of the 12th Annual Research Conference next month, sponsored by the Southwest Interdisciplinary Research Center in the College of Public Programs at Arizona State University.

“People on the Move: Journeys of Resilience towards Health Equity” is set to take place Friday, April 4, at the Sheraton Phoenix Downtown Hotel. It will feature several sessions on topics that affect the health of immigrants and minority populations, including housing, mobility, nutrition and mental health. The conference features keynote speaker William Vega, provost professor at the University of Southern California. Vega will discuss the health of immigrants, with a focus on Latinos.

“It’s time for a new conversation about the health of immigrants,” says Vega. “Because many come to this country with little more than the clothes on their backs, we assume that they struggle with their health and disproportionately utilize American health care resources. The truth is that we have much to learn about how they stay healthy, even in the midst of poverty and scarcity.”

The conference will examine the obstacles that lead to health inequity among new immigrants, native-born Latinos and American Indian populations moving from their communities into the cities. It will also focus on research-based solutions that have local, national and global implications.

“The Phoenix-metro area is a prime destination for immigrants from many countries, people from other regions of the U.S. – it has one of the largest urban American Indian community in the country, and is the relocation home for high numbers of refugees,” says Flavio Marsiglia, director of the Southwest Center for Interdisciplinary Research. “The conference will provide the latest research regarding how migration, immigration and forced relocation affect health outcomes, and how we can reduce negative health outcomes for newcomers, and build on the factors that keep them healthy.”

This year’s attendees and presenters will represent many state-wide community research partner agencies, national partner universities and colleagues from Mexico, Guatemala, Canada and China. The cost to attend the conference is $65 for general admission, $35 for students. More information can be found at

The Southwest Interdisciplinary Research Center (SIRC) conducts research across several scientific disciplines on the social and cultural determinants of health. Its primary goal is to prevent and reduce the burden of health disparities in the overall quality of life of Southwestern communities. SIRC is funded by the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities of the National Institutes of Health award P20MD002316. For more information, please visit