Organizations representing physicians and medical students have expressed their concern regarding President Trump’s executive order of Jan. 27 that curtails entry into the United States by travelers from seven Muslim-majority countries. The order also suspends for 120 days entry into the United States for all persons seeking refugee status, and it bars refugees from Syria indefinitely.

Following are direct excerpts from statements issued by medical organizations.

American Academy of Family Physicians

“We are deeply concerned that steps your Administration has taken will have a chilling effect on our nation’s physician workforce, biomedical research, and global health. It is often America’s physicians who answer the call to assist people around the world when a public health crisis occurs. Imagine a world where physicians fail to answer the call of the needy because they fear they may not be able to return to their home and families in the United States.

Many family physicians are international medical graduates (IMG), who have completed all or part of their education and training in the United States. They are professionals who dedicate their careers to the service of their patients in communities large and small, urban and rural. In fact, 20% of our membership and over 25% of family medicine residents [comprise] IMGs. The AAFP applauds and supports wholly the contributions of these individual family physicians to their patients and communities and we celebrate their diversity.

We recognize that one of your primary responsibilities as President is to ensure the safety and security of the country and its citizens. This is, without question, a daunting responsibility. But we strongly urge that the methods of doing so be examined carefully, so that the many people who can add so much to our country through immigration have the opportunity to do so, and those who are doing so already are treated with the respect and dignity they deserve.”

American Academy of Pediatrics

“The executive orders signed today are harmful to immigrant children and families throughout our country. Many of the children who will be most affected are the victims of unspeakable violence and have been exposed to trauma. Children do not immigrate, they flee. They are coming to the United States seeking safe haven in our country and they need our compassion and assistance. Broad scale expansion of family detention only exacerbates their suffering … The AAP is non-partisan and pro-children. We urge President Trump and his administration to ensure that children and families who are fleeing violence and adversity can continue to seek refuge in our country. Immigrant children and families are an integral part of our communities and our nation, and they deserve to be cared for, treated with compassion, and celebrated. Most of all, they deserve to be healthy and safe. Pediatricians stand with the immigrant families we care for and will continue to advocate that their needs are met and prioritized.”

American Association of Medical Colleges

“The United States is facing a serious shortage of physicians. IMGs play an important role in U.S. health care, representing roughly 25% of the workforce. Current immigration pathways – including student, exchange-visitor, and employment visas – provide a balanced solution that improves health care access across the country through programs like the National Interest Waiver and the Conrad 30 J-1 Visa Waiver. In the last decade, Conrad 30 alone has directed nearly 10,000 physicians into rural and urban underserved communities. Impeding these U.S. immigration pathways jeopardizes critical access to high-quality physician care for our nation’s most vulnerable populations.

Our ability to attract top talent from around the world also enriches the research laboratories at medical schools and teaching hospitals that are working toward cures and has helped position the United States as a global leader in medical research, strengthening our economy and bolstering the public’s health. Because disease knows no geographic boundaries, it is essential to ensure that we continue to foster, rather than impede, scientific cooperation with physicians and researchers of all nationalities, as we strive to keep our country healthy.”

American College of Cardiology

“The ability to share ideas and knowledge necessary to address [the global epidemic of cardiovascular disease] is imperative. Policies that impede this free-flow of ideas will have a detrimental impact on scientific discovery, as well as the lives of patients around the world. If we are to realize a future where cardiovascular disease is no longer the number one killer of men and women worldwide we must ensure that our system of scientific exchange allows for health care professionals to learn from each other regardless of their nationality.

Additionally, IMGs, naturalized citizens, and legal residents make up a significant portion of the health care workforce in hospitals and practices across the country. More than 25% of current practicing physicians are IMGs, with cardiology ranking among the top when broken down by medical specialty. Policies that bring the immigration status of those already here into question, while also limiting the ability of others to legally train in the United States going forward, will only serve to exacerbate the already existing cardiovascular workforce shortage, especially in rural America. Such policies also threaten the care continuum of patients who rely on these providers for their medical care.”

American College of Physicians

“The executive order could deny entry or reentry to tens of thousands more persons, including medical students and physicians who are being trained in the United States and/or are delivering direct patient care. … It also creates a precedent for barring entry of IMGs based on their religion and country of origin. … Approximately 30% of ACP members are IMGs.”

American Society of Clinical Oncology

ASCO is deeply concerned about the potential impact of the recent executive order on cancer research, patient care, and international scientific collaboration.

Our more than 40,000 members in 148 countries lead the charge to conquer cancer in all its forms and in every nation. Tens of thousands of people from more than 100 countries participate in our scientific meetings to exchange advances and ideas to improve patient care. Millions of cancer survivors are alive today because of the progress made possible by scientific collaboration. Progress against this disease will falter if the close-knit global community of cancer care providers is divided by policies that bar members of certain nationalities from entering the United States to conduct research, care for people with cancer, or participate in scientific and medical conferences.

The text of the executive order can be found on the White House website.

On Twitter @denisefulton


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