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ACP advocates on behalf on internists and their patients on a number of timely issues. Learn about where ACP stands on the following areas:
© 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
March 7, 2008
Secretary Michael Chertoff
U.S. Department of Homeland Security
Washington, DC 20528
Dear Secretary Chertoff:
I am writing on behalf of the 125,000 members of the American
College of Physicians (ACP), the nation's largest medical specialty
society, to express our deep concern about the Department of
Homeland Security's opposition to granting asylum to health workers
based on their provision of medical care to rebel troops.
As stated in the ACP Ethics Manual "By history, tradition, and
professional oath, physicians have a moral obligation to provide
care for ill persons...A physician may not discriminate against a
class or category of patients." Health care workers serving sick
and wounded independent of nationality or political affiliation
during wartime, clearly demonstrate the principles of primacy of
patient welfare, autonomy and social justice. We fear that the
Department of Homeland Security in not granting asylum to health
workers in recent years, fails to understand these ethical
principles. Further, this appears to be in violation of the Geneva
Convention, which clearly states that fulfillment of the obligation
to care for the wounded and the sick should not affect one's legal
Health professionals must be permitted to fulfill their ethical
obligations. Like Physicians for Human Rights, we applaud these
health workers for upholding those duties. As physicians, we are
obligated by our ethics code to promote health and human rights.
Therefore, we strongly urge you to reconsider your interpretation
of the Immigration and Nationality Act [8 U.S.C. 1182
[a][B][iv][VI]]. We support an amendment of the Act to the
language identified in bold below:
As used in this chapter, the term "engage in terrorist activity"
means, in an individual capacity or as a member of an organization
(VI) to commit an act other than an act carried out to
fulfill medical ethics obligations that the actor knows,
or reasonably should know, affords material support, including a
safe house, transportation, communications, funds, transfer of
funds or other material financial benefit, false documentation or
identification, weapons (including chemical, biological, or
radiological weapons), explosives, or training -[to a terrorist or
The ACP believes that compliance with this interpretation of the
Act and this amendment to reflect the intended interpretation would
benefit not only all health workers, but all Americans.
David C. Dale, MD, FACP
American College of Physicians