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© Copyright 2018 American College of Physicians. All Rights Reserved. 190 North Independence Mall West, Philadelphia, PA 19106-1572
Toll Free: (800) 523.1546 · Local: (215) 351.2400
(Washington, September 1, 2015)- The American College of
Physicians (ACP) today called on physicians, individually and
collectively, to speak out against proposals to deport the 12
million U.S. residents who lack documentation of legal residency
status, citing the adverse impact that mass deportation would have
on individuals and the health of the public.
ACP has had
policy since 2011 opposing mass deportation of undocumented
residents while also recognizing the need for the United States to
have control over who it admits within its borders and to enact and
implement laws designed to reduce unlawful entry.
In recent weeks, there has been a renewed political and policy
debate over deporting all U.S. residents who lack legal
documentation, as well as other changes to immigration law and
"Largely missing from the debate over immigration policies has
been consideration of the potentially grave impact that large-scale
deportation would have on the health of those directly affected,
their families, their communities, and on overall U.S. public
health," said Wayne J. Riley, MD, MPH, MBA, MACP, ACP's president.
"Large-scale deportation of undocumented residents would have
severe and unacceptable adverse health consequences for many
millions of vulnerable people. Numerous studies show that
deportation itself, as well as the fear of being deported, causes
emotional distress, depression, trauma associated with imposed
family separations, and distrust of anyone assumed to be associated
with federal, state and local government, including physicians and
other health care professionals providing care in publicly-funded
hospitals and clinics."
"Such distrust can result in patients delaying and/or not
obtaining needed care, including for highly infectious diseases
like SARS and tuberculosis," Dr. Riley continued, "especially if
physicians in publicly-funded healthcare facilities would be
required to report to authorities on the immigration status of
those seeking care from them, as has already been proposed by some
states. We would consider such reporting requirements to be an
unacceptable, impermissible intrusion on the patient-physician
Today, ACP formally reaffirmed its view, expressed in its 2011
paper, that any policy intended to force the millions of persons
who now reside unlawfully in the U.S. to return to their countries
of origin could result in severe health care consequences for
affected persons and their family members, create a public health
emergency, result in enormous costs to the health care system of
treating such persons (including the significantly increased costs
associated with correctional healthcare services during periods of
detention), and would likely to lead to racial and ethnic profiling
and discrimination. The College also reaffirmed its view that
U.S.-born children of undocumented parents should have the same
access to health coverage and government-subsidized health care as
any other U.S. citizen, as guaranteed by the Constitution's 14th
In a related
blog post, Robert Doherty, ACP's senior vice president of
governmental affairs and public policy, suggested that the medical
profession's own standards of ethics and professionalism may
obligate physicians to advocate for the health of all persons
without regard to their legal residency status. The College's
Ethics Manual, Sixth Edition, he noted, affirms that
"All physicians must fulfill the profession's collective
responsibility to advocate for the health, human rights, and
well-being of the public. . . Physicians have an important role to
play in promoting health and human rights and addressing social
inequities. This includes caring for vulnerable populations, such
as the uninsured and victims of violence or human rights abuses.
Physicians have an opportunity and duty to advocate for the needs
of individual patients as well as society."
Finally, ACP reaffirmed its 2011
call for a national immigration policy on health care that
balances legitimate needs and concerns to control the country's
borders, that makes appropriate distinctions in eligibility for
publicly-funded benefits between those who entered lawfully and
those who did not, and that ensures that all U.S. residents have
access to health care.
"The national debate over immigration policy today is at a key
juncture," Dr. Riley concluded. "Physicians and other health
professionals must remind politicians and policymakers that
deporting millions of vulnerable people would have adverse health
care consequences, not only for the people directly affected and
their families, but also, for their local communities and for the
United States as whole. Instead, we need a balanced immigration
policy that ensures access to healthcare for all U.S. residents
while recognizing that we need appropriate controls over who is
The American College of Physicians is the
largest medical specialty organization and the second-largest
physician group in the United States. ACP members include 143,000
internal medicine physicians (internists), related subspecialists,
and medical students. Internal medicine physicians are specialists
who apply scientific knowledge and clinical expertise to the
diagnosis, treatment, and compassionate care of adults across the
spectrum from health to complex illness. Follow ACP on Twitter and Facebook.
Contact: David Kinsman, (202) firstname.lastname@example.org