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Refugees Fleeing Violence and Persecution Must Have the Right to Apply for Asylum at the Southern Border

ACP Urges Withdrawal of New Presidential Proclamation

 

Statement attributable to:
Ana María López, MD, MPH, MACP
President, American College of Physicians

Washington, DC (November 9, 2018) – The American College of Physicians (ACP) is greatly concerned about a new Presidential Proclamation that would impose a minimum 90 day prohibition on granting asylum to refugees if they do not cross the southern U.S. border at an official port of entry. While ACP supports reasonable policies to enable refugees to apply for asylum in an orderly and safe manner at authorized border crossings whenever possible, ACP strongly objects to any regulation to arbitrarily and unilaterally deny asylum to refugees entering the county through Mexico at places other than authorized crossings. This contravenes our understanding of U.S. and international law by denying such immigrants, many of whom are at risk of persecution or facing violence in their countries, from applying for refugee status.

U.S. law currently allows immigrants and refugees to apply for asylum even if they are not at an official port of entry. ACP also supports the Immigration and Nationality Act, which says that anyone who arrives in the U.S., regardless of the port of arrival, may apply for asylum if they fear persecution due to race, religion, nationality, or political opinion. ACP fears that the new rule will expose refugees to extreme health risks because of their country of origin and ethnicity.

ACP’s policy supports granting U.S. legal residency status to refugees who are vulnerable to health consequences, including death, illness, starvation and persecution, with appropriate vetting. ACP opposes denying refugee status from persons in designated countries of origin who otherwise would meet refugee status law requirements in the United States.

ACP calls on the administration and Congress to ensure border security in a way that will not bring harm to the most vulnerable.

Contact: Julie Hirschhorn, (202) 261-4523, jhirschhorn@acponline.org

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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 154,000 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.