In a Sept. 5 press release, AAMC President and CEO Darrell G. Kirch, MD, said, “We are extremely dismayed by the administration’s decision to rescind the current [Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)] executive action.” Established in 2012, DACA grants certain undocumented Americans who came to the U.S. as children, temporary lawful presence, including work authorization, which enables participating students to attend medical school and residency training [see Washington Highlights, Sept. 1].
According to a Sept. 5 White House statement, Attorney General Jeff Sessions found that “DACA was not statutorily authorized and was therefore an unconstitutional exercise of discretion by the executive branch.” As a result, the administration will wind down the program “in an orderly and minimally disruptive manner” over sixmonths in lieu of the courts abruptly enjoining the program. Dr. Kirch noted, “Even with the ‘wind down process’ described by the administration, the implications of this action for medical students, medical residents, and researchers with DACA status are serious, and will interfere with their ability to complete their training and contribute meaningfully to the health of the nation.”
Under the administration’s wind down process:
Additional DACA initial applications filed after Sept. 5, 2017, will not be accepted.
Renewal applications for DACA work authorization filed by Oct. 5, 2017, for individuals whose DACA status expires before March 5, 2018, will be processed.
Any such requests filed after Oct. 5, 2017, will not be accepted.
Dr. Kirch further reiterated a December 2016 letter he sent to then President-elect Trump [see Washington Highlights, Dec. 16, 2016], “Research demonstrates that diversity in the health professions leads to improvements in access to care for the underserved, better quality of care, and learning environments that increase creativity and innovation for all students,” and, “we are dedicated to promoting a culturally responsive, diverse, and prepared health and biomedical workforce that leads to improved patient care.”
Dr. Kirch concluded by urging “Congress to pass a permanent solution — such as the bipartisan Dream Act of 2017 [S.1615, H.R.3440] — or at the very least, to pass a temporary legislative remedy such as the BRIDGE Act [S. 128, H.R. 496].” Meanwhile, Democratic leadership and Senators Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), the sponsors of the Dream Act of 2017, called on Congress to pass legislation before the end of September.