Despite changes, revised immigration executive order will cause health care crises
Washington (March 6, 2017) — President Trump's revised executive order on immigration clarifies that those from the 6 designated countries with existing visas, including physicians and medical students, will be able to enter and reenter the U.S. as recommended by ACP. However the order will still open the door to discrimination against Muslims, disrupt medical education, hinder travel by physicians and others, and exacerbate a public health crisis for refugees, said the American College of Physicians (ACP) today. ACP was critical of the President's previous order on immigration, issuing statements on January 30, January 31, February 7 and February 10, and remains opposed. The revised order eliminates Iraq from the countries impacted from the ban, does not indefinitely ban Syrian refugees; and provides other allowances for travelers who are legal, permanent residents of the U.S. or existing visa holders, and those who have already been granted asylum or refugee status.
"ACP acknowledges the changes to the executive order but we feel overall it is still harmful to the practice of medicine and medical education in our country," said Nitin S. Damle, MD, MS, MACP. "ACP has grave concerns about the implications of the executive order on medical education, access to health care services, public health and families."
While the changes in the revised order will help some travelers, it still puts some of the most vulnerable at an unacceptably increased health risk. With a 120-day ban on new refugees and a decreased number of refugees accepted to the U.S., those who are denied entry are put at a significant risk of injury, death, persecution and deprivation.
ACP remains concerned that by restricting entry of physicians and medical students from the six designated Muslim-majority countries, the order will undermine medical education and result in patients losing access to their doctors. The 2017 Resident Match Day will be held on March 17, 2017. This is the day when fourth year medical students learn which residency program has accepted them. The expected start date for this year's medical residents is July 1, 2017. In 2016, 3,769 non U.S. citizen international medical graduates obtained first-year residency positions.
"We are extremely concerned that the 90-day ban on travelers from the six designated countries will not allow time for medical residents from those countries to obtain a visa in time for their start date," continued Dr. Damle. "Each medical resident treats thousands of patients over the course of a year. It is critical that the administration acknowledge the negative impact that this ban will have on medical education and allow an exception for these medical residents."
The American College of Physicians is the largest medical specialty organization in the United States. ACP members include 148,000 internal medicine physicians (internists), related subspecialists, and medical students. Internal medicine physicians are specialists who apply scientific knowledge and clinical expertise to the diagnosis, treatment, and compassionate care of adults across the spectrum from health to complex illness.