Senators Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) Jan. 12 reintroduced bipartisan legislation (S. 128) to protect undocumented students and medical residents, among others, should the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program be discontinued under the incoming Trump Administration. Representatives Mike Coffman (R-Colo.) and Luis V. Gutiérrez (D-Ill.) introduced companion legislation (H.R. 496) in the House.
The AAMC lauded the introduction of the “Bar Removal of Individuals who Dream and Grow our Economy (BRIDGE) Act,” which was first introduced in the Senate late last year [see Washington Highlights, Dec. 16]. The bill would provide temporary relief from deportation and work authorization to undocumented individuals who are eligible for DACA.
In a Dec. 7 letter, AAMC President and CEO Darrell G. Kirch, M.D., states, “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,” and continues, “Students with DACA status encompass a diverse, multicultural, multiethnic population, who are often bilingual and more likely to practice medicine in underserved communities.”
In addition to supporting the BRIDGE Act, the AAMC urged a permanent fix such as the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act, and encouraged the incoming Administration and Congress to grant DREAMers eligibility for federal student loans.