Turns Out, A LOT Of Our Doctors Are Here On Student Visas

Photo: Settaphan Rummanee / Alamy Stock Photoᐧ
The list of companies that have voiced their opposition to President Trump's recent immigration ban reads like an A to Z (or rather, an Apple to Zuckerberg) of American corporate success stories. Everyone from Google to Microsoft to Airbnb has thrown their hat in the ring to protest the dangerous ban, which — in addition to being shameful, racist, and cruel to those seeking refuge — is downright terrible for American businesses. What else is it terrible for? American health care.

Today, the American Medical Association (AMA) issued a letter to Secretary of Homeland Security John F. Kelly outlining a (somehow overlooked by the Trump administration?) disastrous side effect of the immigration ban: One in four physicians currently practicing in the U.S. is here on a visa. Yep. One day, the government is detaining U.S military translators and Oscar nominees and breast-feeding mothers at airports; the next, it could be detaining 25% of the country's medical doctors.

"The AMA is concerned that this executive order is negatively impacting patient access to care and creating unintended consequences for our nation’s health care system," wrote AMA executive vice president and CEO, James L. Madara, MD, in the letter. "Specifically, there are reports indicating that this executive order is affecting both current and future physicians as well as medical students and residents who are providing much needed care to some of our most vulnerable patients."

He adds that these visa-holding doctors, known as international medical graduates (IMGs), often come to the states to serve in rural, low-income areas that have trouble attracting qualified physicians. Of course, those communities were some of the major players who got Trump elected in the first place. Oh, the irony.

Plus, with the ACA on the chopping block, rural and low-income communities are going to need those dedicated, educated, and, yes, foreign doctors more than ever. So we're right behind Dr. Madara in his plea for Secretary Kelly and President Trump to think more seriously about this immigration ban and "mitigate any negative impact on our nation’s health care system." Here's hoping they listen.
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