The AAMC, joined by 21 health professional education and practice organizations, filed a June 12 amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court opposing the government’s applications for a stay of the lower courts’ injunctions against the executive order barring entry of individuals from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen.
The brief expresses concern that allowing the order’s suspension of entry to take effect will exacerbate the nation’s health-professional workforce shortages, inhibit advances in medical care, and constrain collaboration needed to undertake effective biomedical research and manage global threats to public health.
The brief argues that the executive order threatens to upset the carefully balanced and highly regulated immigration processes authorized by Congress, on which the U.S. health care and research enterprises rely. Teaching hospitals, which have a special role in ensuring our nation’s health security, rely heavily on physicians and scientists from other countries in caring for vulnerable populations, responding to attacks of violence, and containing infectious diseases like Ebola. Sudden changes in the handling of visa applications and widespread backlogs also present a significant risk to the annual residency match and to the ability of highly-skilled and rigorously-vetted physicians from other countries to provide care in U.S. communities experiencing physician shortages.
In sum, the brief asserts there is a direct link between fair and efficient immigration processes and the nation’s ability to deliver high-quality care, discover medical breakthroughs, and protect public health.
In a June 12 statement, AAMC President and CEO Darrell G. Kirch, MD, noted, “Suspending entry of highly talented and skilled medical and research professionals into the United States on the basis of their nationalities would ultimately undermine the health security of our nation, especially as we face a looming physician shortage. When we close our borders to highly skilled health professionals, we also are closing them to collaboration, discovery, and better national and global health.”
The court is expected to make a decision on the government’s applications for a stay before it concludes its current term in late June.