AAMC President and CEO Darrell G. Kirch, MD, sent a Dec. 8 letter urging President-elect Trump not to revoke the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) executive action without a permanent fix, and sent a Dec. 7 letter in support of Senators working on a legislative safety net for individuals currently with DACA status.
In a statement Dr. Kirch reiterated, “The AAMC is dedicated to promoting a culturally competent, diverse, and prepared health and biomedical workforce that leads to improved health. With the nation’s population growing and becoming increasingly diverse, it is crucial that the physician workforce reflect the changing demographics of the country to mitigate racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic health disparities. A diverse and culturally responsive physician workforce leads to improvements in access to care for the underserved, improves cultural awareness, promotes health equity, and—studies have shown—leads to more positive patient experiences.”
In the Dec. 8 letter, Dr. Kirch urged President-elect Trump “to not revoke the current DACA executive order until a permanent pathway to a lawful immigration status for DACA participants is approved by Congress.” He added, “To that end, the AAMC supports the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act,” and “encourages your Administration and Congress to grant DREAMers eligibility for federal student loans.”
In addition, Dr. Kirch thanked Senators Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), and Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) for their “leadership to ensure medical students and medical residents with DACA status are able to continue their medical education and training.” The Dec. 7 letter adds, “Students with DACA status encompass a diverse, multicultural, multiethnic population, who are often bilingual and more likely to practice medicine in underserved communities.”
Subsequently, Senators Graham, Flake, and Durbin, were joined by Senators Lisa Murkowsi (R-Alaska), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), and Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Dec. 9 to introduce the Bar Removal of Individuals who Dream and Grow our Economy (BRIDGE) Act (S. 3542). The BRIDGE Act would grant individuals who are eligible for DACA a “provisional protected presence” and employment authorization for three years after the date of enactment.
During the campaign, President-elect Trump pledged to revoke President Obama’s DACA executive action when he takes office on Jan. 20, but has recently stated, “We are going to work something out that’s going to make people happy and proud.” The 114th Congress has adjourned, but Senators Graham and Durbin plan to reintroduce the BRIDGE Act at the start of the 115th Congress on Jan. 3, and are seeking additional cosponsors.
Government Relations Health Policy Fellow