‘Dreamer’ docs worry about immigration nightmare

Medical education
'Dreamer' docs are worried about the future given tougher immigration policies.

Though fears of being deported were eased by news this week that they will retain their protected status under the Trump administration, "dreamer" docs still face anxiety about the future.

Memos released Tuesday from the Department of Homeland Security left intact an executive order issued by President Barack Obama in 2012 that granted protection from prosecution for the so-called Dreamers—young immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children, according to CNN.

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About 70 undocumented students who received Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status are enrolled in medical schools nationwide, according to The World Post, which quoted the Association of American Medical Colleges.

The uncertainty created by President Donald Trump’s election and his promised crackdown on illegal immigrants has fueled fears about deportation among many of those future doctors working toward their dream of a medical career, the Post said. Those include students at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine, which has 28 undocumented medical students—more than any other program in the country.

“I’m just trying to prepare for the worst,” said Belsy Garcia Manrique, 26, an undocumented immigrant from Guatemala in her second year at the school. Loyola Stritch brought in an immigration lawyer to talk to students about their rights.

The DACA program gives some 750,000 young people who came to the U.S. as children access to work permits and a two-year renewable reprieve from deportation, although it is not a path to citizenship. It allows them to enroll in college, obtain valid driver’s licenses and legally secure jobs.

The Homeland Security memos specifically pointed out that DACA remains in place, but also made clear that any undocumented immigrant charged with a crime is now eligible for removal, CNN said.

The result is fear that DACA enrollees could be swept up in Trump’s broadened deportation policies. Some people are not reassured.

"The President made clear that they don't yet have a plan on DACA, and the guidance . . . doesn't add anything to that," Kamal Essaheb, director of policy and advocacy at National Immigration Law Center, told CNN. "We cannot at this time offer a confident assessment of whether anyone—including those with DACA—are protected from enforcement."

Pediatricians have also expressed fears that immigrant children, who worry their parents will be taken into custody or deported, will only have more anxiety and stress.