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  • Washington Highlights

    AAMC Files Amicus Brief in DHS v. Regents of the University of California

    Heather Alarcon, J.D., Senior Director, Legal Services

    The AAMC, joined by 32 organizations representing a range of health professional education groups, filed an amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court this week in Department of Homeland Security v. Regents of the University of California.

    On Sept. 5, 2017, Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Elaine C. Duke issued a memorandum rescinding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program [see Washington Highlights, Sept. 8, 2017]. Multiple administrative and constitutional challenges were filed against the government, including a suit filed by the Regents of the University of California.

    The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of CA issued a preliminary injunction in January 2018 requiring the federal government to continue the DACA program. This decision was upheld by the Ninth Circuit in November 2018. The government appealed, along with appeals of similar injunctions in the Second Circuit and D.C. Circuit. The Supreme Court June 29 granted certiorari, consolidating Regents, NAACP, and the Vidal cases. Oral arguments will be heard Nov. 12.

    The Circuit Court holdings are based upon the government’s failure to consider serious reliance interests before terminating the DACA program, a requirement under the Administrative Procedures Act. The amicus brief highlights how health professional schools, hospitals, the health care workforce, and the American patient population, have come to deeply rely upon the DACA program, and explains the potential harm presented to America’s health security if the program is terminated. The U.S. stands to lose 27,000 health care workers whose work authorization depends upon DACA – an unacceptable outcome at a time of deepening health care professional shortages.

    The brief notes that health professional schools have invested millions of dollars and thousands of hours into the education and training of DACA-dependent health professionals, each of whom is highly qualified to address the health care needs of our growing and diversifying patient population. In addition, DACA health professionals demonstrate a higher likelihood and motivation to work in underserved areas and among underserved populations. The AAMC and other health professional education groups have urged the Supreme Court to uphold the lower Courts’ decisions.