Medical Community Reacts to the Supreme Court’s Travel Ban Ruling

On June 26, 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court voted to uphold President Donald Trump’s travel ban, restricting immigration from seven “high-risk” countries (Syria, Iran, North Korea, Libya, Yemen, Venezuela, and Somalia), five of which are predominantly Muslim. Several medical societies condemned the ban in its previous iterations and are now expressing concerns that this decision will endanger the U.S. health-care system.

“We are seeing a chilling effect from the travel ban not just in the Muslim countries but a number of other countries where people used to travel to the U.S., not only to study and practice medicine but also other math and science careers,” said Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) Chief Health Care Officer Janis Orlowski, MD. “The intolerance to immigrants has raised concerns for many people who would normally come to the U.S. and study.”

Leaders from other medical organizations also warned that the policy will exacerbate the looming physician shortage in the U.S. With medical students restricted in their ability to come to the U.S. for their studies, some may choose to receive their medical education elsewhere, limiting the number of incoming healthcare providers and researchers.

The American Society of Hematology (ASH) has consistently opposed this policy, and previously joined with the AAMC and 33 other health-care organizations in filing an amicus brief urging the Supreme Court to oppose the order. ASH President Alexis A. Thompson, MD, released a statement on the decision. “[The] ruling by the Supreme Court is disappointing,” she said. “Every year, talented medical professionals come to the U.S. to learn, collaborate, and advance the fields of science, health, and medicine. ASH recognizes the contributions of all scientists and caregivers, regardless of national origin, and will work with lawmakers on Capitol Hill to find legislative solutions that keep our borders strong while ensuring the U.S. attracts the strongest possible biomedical research workforce from around the globe.”

Sources: ASH press release, June 27, 2018; Medscape, July 2, 2018.