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Doctors Without Borders: Med-School Dreamers Ask Congress To Stay In U.S.

by Countable | 9.12.17

What’s the story?

President Trump’s decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program could, as Forbes reported, "exacerbate the U.S. doctor shortage and hurt patient care for thousands of Americans."

The Trump administration has given Congress six months to come up with a solution for the 800,000 Dreamers currently taking advantage of the program, which protected young undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children from being deported.

The issue: the hundreds of doctors, nurses, health-care workers, medical students and residents with DACA status. According to the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), as reported by Forbes, "there were 113 students with DACA status who applied to U.S. medical schools and 65 ‘Dreamers’ enrolled for the 2016-2017 school year."

Why does it matter?

Manuel Bernal, a fourth-year medical student, told the Huffington Post, "It’s the worst timing, really, because I’m at the end of my med school career and ready to transition over to the next phase of my career." Bernal wants to apply to residency programs, but because the fate of DACA is unknown, so is his future in the American medical profession. “If there’s no resolution passed it would make it impossible to move on,” he said.

Manuel attends the Stritch School of Medicine, which in 2014 began a program to invite and admit students with DACA status.

"It is simply in the interest of the medical profession and the people we serve to utilize the talents of qualified students of this immigration status," the school explained.

The AAMC has warned that the nation’s doctor shortage will rise by between 40,800 and 104,900 by 2030, "creating a real risk to patient care."

"The nation continues to face a significant physician shortage. As our patient population continues to grow and age, we must begin to train more doctors if we wish to meet the health care needs of all Americans," said AAMC President Darrell G. Kirch, MD.

The American Medical Association has similar concerns, and urged Congress to "act quickly" on protecting Dreamers.”

In a letter to congressional leaders, including House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), the AMA wrote,

"We particularly are concerned that this reversal in policy could have severe consequences for many in the health-care workforce, impacting patients and our nation’s health-care system."

The AMA explained that U.S. healthcare "depends on the care provided by international medical graduates (IMGs)." One out of four physicians practicing in the U.S. is an IMG, the AMA wrote, and “these individuals include many with DACA status who are filling gaps in care."

In announcing the Trump administration’s plans to end DACA, Attorney General Jeff Sessions focused instead on the alleged economic and rule of law impacts on the country.

"No greater good can be done for the overall health and well-being of our Republic, than preserving and strengthening the impartial rule of law," he said.

Sessions also stated that granting protections to Dreamers "denied jobs to hundreds of thousands of Americans by allowing those same jobs to go to illegal aliens." Sessions did not explicitly mention the medical profession, but it has been well known that immigrants occupy a considerable proportion of this workforce.

What do you think?

Are you concerned about a doctor shortage? Should Congress grant special extensions to Dreamers in the medical profession? Are health-care workers with DACA status preventing other Americans from entering the medical profession? Hit the Take Action, tell your reps, then comment below.

—Josh Herman

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(Photo Credit: baona / iStockphoto)

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(40)
  • Abbi
    09/12/2017
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    Tell me again how losing 800,000 good people will make America great again? Seems like families are getting ripped apart and we are losing doctors, paramedics, engineers all because Trump's a friggin' racist and is only doing this because he takes orders from Bannon.

    Like (19)
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  • Joane
    09/12/2017
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    We have a shortage of doctors across the country. Dreamers in med schools should stay, as well as all the other dreamers!! Please protect our DACA recipients!

    Like (16)
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  • Chris
    09/12/2017
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    ALL dreamers should be able to stay!!

    Like (12)
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  • Kelly
    09/12/2017
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    The fact that there is a growing shortage on physicians proves that legal citizens are taking a job option. If there was a surplus of doctors and med students then maybe you could argue immigrants were "stealing" jobs. But there is a shortage, and immigrants want to help to close that gap. Would you as an American citizen rather suffer from a physician shortage and poor medical care than allow someone to establish themselves and serve you and this country? I think not, but I like being able to see a doctor when I need one.

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  • Matt
    09/12/2017
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    Young men and women who have gone to American schools, grown up in American neighborhoods, and who have striven so hard for their educations to help and heal other Americans should not fear for their futures. This needs to be fixed.

    Like (6)
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  • KansasTamale
    09/12/2017
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    ALL DREAMERS SHOULD STAY AND SHOULD BE GIVEN A METHOD TO BECOME CITIZENS. The Legislature MUST FIX this !!! The DREAMERS ARE CONSTRUCTIVE CITIZENS WHO DESERVE TO STAY.,

    Like (5)
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  • Elizabeth
    09/12/2017
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    Find a way to pass the Dream Act.

    Like (5)
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  • Mary
    09/12/2017
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    Keep the dreamers program and stop Trump and others from hurting young people who have come here as children. Stop the hate,

    Like (4)
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  • Eli
    09/12/2017
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    @beverly and @karan who commented before I: Dreamers are protected by the law. Trump wants to change that. Also: Did you miss the part that says we have a shortage of physicians in the US? Dreamers and other immigrants are not "taking the seats" of US citizens, they are filling in gaps left by US citizens so everyone can have a doctor. Every year, at least 1/3 of the residency spots in the US are filled by immigrant doctors. That's because there aren't enough US citizen doctors to fill all the spots. Don't be a blanket racist.

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  • Karan
    09/12/2017
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    Every illegal immigrant who was accepted into a medical school, that position could've gone to a legal immigrant or a citizen. If there are 1,000 seats in a medical school and illegals (including DREAMERS) take 70 of them, that's 70 Americans who didn't get that spot. Call me racist but it's the truth

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  • Denise
    09/12/2017
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    Fix DACA and let them stay! I know firsthand about the doctor shortage after a move last year and one of my new doctors is an immigrant. Don't believe anything Sessions said. It's all lies. Congress needs to step forward and fix this problem now! Trump was an idiot even bringing it up. He could have left well enough alone.

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  • Bluewitsend
    09/12/2017
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    I support DACA and Dreamers and want a pathway to citizenship ship for them.

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  • Kathy
    09/12/2017
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    We need to support all of our DACA recipients. Those in med school are a good example of why. We have a shortage of doctors and I personally suspect that the AMA likes it that way, but if we could get more doctors going to more rural and poorer areas, we could not only help people, but perhaps the cost of medical care would go down.

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  • mnlauren
    09/12/2017
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    Please come up with a solution to allow hard working American dreamers to stay in the country.

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  • Bfowler7
    09/12/2017
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    No. Laws are laws!

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  • Ashton
    09/14/2017
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    If you say 'don't blame them for their parents sins' then don't blame me for my great great great great grandparents sins in the Civil War.

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  • Ruth
    09/12/2017
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    With our chronic shortage of qualified medical personnel, we need all of these persons to be in our Hm system to care for Americans.

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  • Pete
    09/12/2017
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    Destroying the lives of young adults for something their parents did is JUST WRONG. It equals the act of numerous repressive regimes and is NOT the American way!

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  • Eric
    09/13/2017
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    800,000 less cars on the roads should help liberal causes like cleaner air... all kidding aside, DACA is unconstitutional even according to Obama. The fact is, nobody is being deported with or without DACA.

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  • Thelma
    09/13/2017
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    Dreamers must be allowed to stay in the US, their home.

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