Health Groups Oppose Suspending Immigration for Health Care Providers and Family Members

July 16, 2020

The Association for Clinical Oncology (ASCO) signed on to a letter from the American Medical Association (AMA) and statements from the Council of Medical Specialty Societies (CMSS) and the American College of Physicians’ Council of Subspecialty Societies (CSS) expressing concerns about the Trump Administration’s executive order suspending immigration on certain professional visas to the United States (U.S.). The groups state that such restrictions on health care professionals could hinder efforts to address the COVID-19 pandemic in the U.S. and urge the Administration to make health care professionals, researchers, and dependent family members exempt from the proclamation.

According to the American Immigration Council, international medical graduates (IMGs) who are citizens of other nations (non-US IMGs) represent more than 25% of the physician workforce in the U.S. and nearly 21 million Americans live in an area where at least one-half of the physicians are foreign-trained. “As such, non-U.S. citizen IMGs play a critical role in providing health care, especially in areas of the country with higher rates of poverty and chronic disease. Accordingly, the entry of every IMG is in the national interest of the U.S. especially during the pandemic, when physicians are needed in every specialty now more than ever,” the AMA letter asserts.

The June 22 executive order does contain a carve out for anyone “whose entry would be in the national interest…,” but health groups urge the Administration to specify that all health care professionals—not only those involved in COVID-19 research and practice—are in the national interest and exempt from the proclamation. Additionally, the groups assert that spouses and dependent children of non-US IMGs entering the U.S. to provide critical health care to should also be considered critical to the national interest so that dependent family members are not be separated from one another during a global pandemic.

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