DURHAM, N.C. — Dr. Luke Smith drove slowly through the unlit streets of a neighborhood filled with immigrants, searching for an address among small houses with windows ribbed by iron bars. Pharmacy bags lay at his feet.
His mission: to deliver medication to patients too frightened to pick up their prescriptions.
On this evening, Dr. Smith, a psychiatrist, was looking for the family of a 12-year-old boy with attention deficit disorder. Like most people who have sneaked into the United States illegally, the boy’s parents, from Puebla, Mexico, do not have drivers’ licenses.
Now, when they drive, being stopped at one of the frequent traffic checkpoints here can have consequences far more costly than a fine. Shaken by the Trump administration’s broad deportation orders, they and many others like them are retreating into the shadows, forgoing screenings, medications and other essential medical care.
Several times a week, Dr. Smith picks up prescriptions at pharmacies, then meets patients at their homes to hand them the medications they require.
“I can’t have my patients taking risks to get medicine I prescribe for them,” he said.