Re-evaluate Immigration Order, AAFP Urges President

January 31, 2017 05:13 pm News Staff

The executive order restricting immigration that President Donald Trump issued last week will have a chilling effect on medicine, reduce patients' access to care and must be re-evaluated, the AAFP wrote to the president today.

In a letter(2 page PDF) signed by President John Meigs, M.D., of Centreville, Ala., the AAFP acknowledged Trump's "daunting responsibility" to ensure the safety and security of the United States and its citizens. But it urged him to reconsider the scope and breadth of the Jan. 27 executive order, which blocks entry to the United States by citizens of seven countries for 90 days, bars refugees for 120 days and bars refugees from Syria indefinitely.

Many family physicians are international medical graduates who dedicate their careers to serving patients in the United States, the letter stated.

"In fact, 20 percent of our membership and over 25 percent of family medicine residents are comprised of international medical graduates," the AAFP wrote. "The AAFP applauds and supports wholly the contributions of these individual family physicians to their patients and communities, and we celebrate their diversity."

The letter also pointed out that physicians who practice in the United States routinely answer calls for assistance when a public health crisis occurs anywhere in the world.

"Imagine a world where physicians fail to answer the call of the needy because they fear they may not be able to return to their homes and families in the United States," the AAFP wrote.

Within the United States, the executive order may exacerbate the primary care shortage by reducing access to care for millions of patients who would be served by those affected by the action.

"These additional primary care physicians are very important to our health care workforce and provide much-needed care to all segments of society, from rural to urban to underserved, infants to children, adults and the elderly," Meigs said in a separate statement. "Patient care is the AAFP's number one priority. Denying that based on a physician's religion, geographic location or nation of origin is unacceptable."