Statement Opposing White House Immigration Proclamation

The American Society of Pediatric Nephrology 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. 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. Non-citizen physicians are critical to ensuring all Americans have access to care, including children with kidney disease. Like many other pediatric subspecialties, pediatric nephrology is facing a significant workforce shortage, and children with kidney disease in the United States currently rely and for the foreseeable future will continue to rely on non-citizen pediatric nephrologists.

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. According to a recent data released by the Migration Policy Institute, immigrants accounted for 17% of health care workers and 28% of physicians and surgeons in the United States. As the current pandemic has made clear, now more than ever it is critical that we have a strong health care and research workforce in this country that makes use of the potential contributions of our entire healthcare workforce, regardless of visa status.

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.