Protect Immigrant Physicians From Executive Order, Protect Patients From Losing Doctors
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Dear Madam, Dear Sir,
On January 27th 2017, President Donald Trump signed an Executive Order (EO) which implemented a 90-day suspension of visas and other immigration benefits to all nationals of Iran, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Yemen, Libya and Somalia. Legal experts believe this suspension may be extended indefinitely.
We have learned that there is a tremendous amount of confusion regarding the implementation of this order. The latest information we have obtained reveals that the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has put a hold on all visa extensions and immigration benefits (including adjustment of status and employment authorization) for citizens from the above-mentioned countries who are inside the United States. We have been notified about cases involving physicians and their families who left the United States for a short vacation or a humanitarian mission and were not allowed back into the United States. The unrealistic conditions required in the EO for discontinuing the suspension make it very likely that this EO will turn into a permanent ban.
We, physicians and healthcare providers of various nationalities practicing medicine in the United States in a variety of different fields, are directly impacted by these decisions and we would like to voice our deepest concerns and strongest opposition to this measure, as it directly affects patient care as much as it affects us. This EO will result in a lot of hard-working, compassionate physicians who go above and beyond in patient care not being able to have their legal status extended, not being able to continue practicing medicine, not being able to serve their patients and communities because their work authorizations will not be renewed, and not being able to see their families abroad for years. As it is, many physicians have not seen their families in several years due to the unfortunate and tumultuous events in their home countries. Many International Medical Graduates (IMGs) who are in search for residency training positions will also be blocked from matching to a residency spot, and many medical researchers will not be able to continue contributing to science and development.
These bans have highly negative consequences. The unethical and discriminatory treatment of law-abiding, hard-working, and well-integrated immigrant physicians fundamentally contravenes the founding principles of the United States. The long term effect of this EO will result in a decline in the number of practicing healthcare providers in USA causing abrupt cessation of patient care, which will affect patient safety and work flow in vast institution throughout the country.
We appreciate all the supporting statements issued by multiple medical organizations including the statement by the American College of Physicians on Jan 31st, 2017. We find it a source of relief knowing that our medical society realizes how important immigrant physicians are to the American communities. However, we would like to respectfully ask for more. We would like for all possible legal action to be taken to make sure that physicians will not be forced out of the country and out of practice. We also need a strong push towards allowing physicians from the above-mentioned countries to enter the United States. We strongly urge the use of all possible legal power to have this Executive Order rescinded due to its tremendously negative impact on physicians, their families, and on patient care.
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