Health Professionals Against The Ban
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Please consider signing the above petition and standing up for the rights of immigrants and refugees, many of whom are our colleagues and our patients. Please also send this to colleagues in the medical field so that they can have a voice too. Together, we can make a difference.
Health Professionals Must Choose A Side On The Ban
By Sagar Shah, MD
On June 6th, 1939, the St. Louis, a boat carrying over 900 German Jews, sailed back to Europe after being denied safe entry into the United States as refugees. Over 25% of the passengers subsequently died during the Holocaust. Today, the National Holocaust Museum in Washington D.C. documents the voyage of the St. Louis as a reminder of why it is so important that Americans open our hearts and our ports to refugees.
Nine years later, after both witnessing and heroically opposing mass genocide driven by xenophobia, America promised to never again to turn its back to men, women, and children facing imminent danger “without distinction as to race, sex, language, or religion.” These words formed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and its signing was the ultimate affirmation of the principles established by our own Declaration of Independence.
Yet, in keeping with our characteristic optimism, America has forgotten the mistake we made on June 6th, 1939, and our president now demands that we once again ignore the cries for help of seven nations of men, women, and children who share a common religion. Make no mistake; this is only the beginning of a xenophobic agenda to end America’s long-term immigration and refugee programs.
Rather than sitting idly as silent accomplices to this infringement of human rights, this heartless ban on refugees and immigrants, let us find inspiration in the civil disobedience of Sally Yates, who valued human dignity above career stability when she refused to defend an authoritative, un-American, and unjust order from the President. Let us reach across the political aisle as Judge James Robart, a Bush appointee, has done, and stand up for those whose health and happiness depends upon our generosity.
And though this message applies to all Americans, I especially direct these words towards the doctors, PAs, nurses, psychologists, and other health professionals of America, who have pledged to uphold “special obligations to all my fellow human beings…those sound of mind and body as well as the infirm.” These are the words of the modern Hippocratic Oath, and they should be remembered in every act of compassion we have the privilege to provide in our profession.
It is true that many modern physicians have shied away from expressing their political opinions for fear of alienating patients. But if our silence does more harm to human beings – and remember, “first do no harm” – then we must declare our support for refugees and immigrants in public. This is especially important in our profession since former immigrants and refugees make up a large portion of our workforce and patient population. And when over 100 CEOs of American companies have risked losing billions of dollars in revenue to oppose the ban, shame on us for not uniting and doing the same. The line has been drawn in the sand. It’s time for health professionals to choose a side.
I am reminded of two lesser-known lines in the Declaration of Independence. In expressing the grievances of the colonies, Thomas Jefferson, whose portrait hangs in Trump’s oval office, said of King George III:
“He has endeavored to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners.”
“He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices.”
Whether you appeal to your American identity or your oath as a Healer, now is the time to stand up to this un-American and inhumane ban. Sign the petition for Health Professionals against the ban on change.org.
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