The Association for Clinical Oncology signed on to a letter from the American Medical Association (AMA) and statements from the Council of Medical Specialty Societies and the American College of Physicians’ Council of Subspecialty Societies expressing concerns about the Trump Administration’s executive order suspending immigration on certain professional visas to the United States. The groups state that such restrictions on health-care professionals could hinder efforts to address the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States and urge the Administration to make health-care professionals, researchers, and dependent family members exempt from the order.
According to the American Immigration Council, international medical graduates who are citizens of other nations represent more than 25% of the physician workforce in the United States. 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 international medical graduates 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 international medical graduate is in the national interest of the United States, especially during the pandemic, when physicians are needed in every specialty now more than ever,” the AMA letter asserted.
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 order. Additionally, the groups assert that spouses and dependent children of non-U.S. international medical graduates entering the country to provide critical health care should also be considered critical to the national interest, so that dependent family members are not separated from one another during a global pandemic.
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