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SGIM Statement on Immigration Proclamation

 , July 07, 2020

SGIM Statement Opposing the Proclamation Suspending Entry of Aliens Who Present a Risk to the U.S. Labor Market Following the Coronavirus Outbreak

The Society of General Internal Medicine (SGIM) strongly opposes the Proclamation Suspending Entry of Aliens Who Present a Risk to the U.S. Labor Market Following the Coronavirus Outbreak, from June 22, 2020. The proclamation limits certain non-immigrant visas, including H-1B and J-1 visas, through December 31, 2020. We are concerned that these limitations will harm the nation’s health care workforce in the midst of a global pandemic, as well as hinder our biomedical research enterprise.

Both H-1B and J-1 visas are utilized by medical residents, physicians, postdoctoral researchers and graduate students each year who work and train in the U.S. Without these visas, it will be impossible for these medical professionals to provide essential health care services in our communities. This is particularly important for smaller training programs that typically serve underserved communities, like those disproportionately affected by COVID-19, and are frequently staffed by international medical graduate (IMG) physicians. Non-citizen physicians are critical to ensuring all Americans have access to care. While we recognize that the proclamation makes an exception for health care professionals who are treating COVID-19 patients, or those who are conducting research on COVID-19, this excludes all other medical professionals who are not treating COVID-19 patients and is not inclusive enough.

Furthermore, it is not realistic to expect every institution or hospital to submit a request for an exception “in the national interest” for every health care worker or researcher who applies for a H-1B or J-1 visa. The primary care workforce is experiencing a growing shortage that existed before COVID-19 and may be exacerbated by this policy. Now more than ever, it is critical that we have a strong health care and research workforce.

In order to ensure that the U.S. remains a global leader in biomedical research and to ensure that patients have access to quality care, we urge the administration to rescind this policy immediately.

The full text of the presidential proclamation is available on the White House website at:

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