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Internists Say Biden Administration Actions an Important Step Toward Protecting International Medical Graduates and All Immigrants
Statement attributable to:
Jacqueline W. Fincher, MD, MACP,
President, American College of Physicians
WASHINGTON, Feb. 3 — Yesterday, as part of a series of executive actions on immigration, the Biden administration indicated that it will streamline the naturalization process, ensure that our immigration system operate fairly and efficiently, and seek to reunite children separated from their parents at the border. International medical graduates (IMGs) comprise an important part of our health care system. Many IMG physicians have been working tirelessly to provide critical care to COVID-19 patients in hospitals across the country, while at the same time worrying about new or temporary changes to immigration processes. The American College of Physicians (ACP) is encouraged by changes that would streamline the naturalization process for persons, including IMGs, seeking citizenship. ACP urges the administration to also address the backlog in applications for permanent residency status. Such changes would better allow physicians who are born and trained abroad to concentrate on the important work of providing health care to their patients.
The Biden administration also announced that it is going to prioritize reuniting families who have been separated at the border. ACP has repeatedly been vocal about the trauma and harm to their lifetime health that family separations have on the children who are taken from their family members, their parents, and their communities. We are glad to see that President Biden understands the urgency of reuniting families and ensuring that this does not happen in the future. We cannot allow this type of harm to be inflicted on the health of children or their families due to misguided public policies or public officials.
The actions also order a review of changes that were made to the “public charge” rule that greatly restrict public assistance that immigrants and their families can access. Since the proposed changes were issued, ACP has expressed our concern about the potential for the changes to deter immigrants from seeking health care for themselves or their families. As physicians, we know how important it is not to place additional barriers in the way of necessary health care services for anyone. As we have seen over the past year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the health of one of us can greatly impact the health of all of us. We need to ensure that immigrants, as all residents of the United States, have access to important health care services.
About the American College of Physicians
The American College of Physicians is the largest medical specialty organization in the United States with members in more than 145 countries worldwide. ACP membership includes 163,000 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, Facebook, and Instagram.
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