“Dreamer” doctors can breathe a sigh of relief for now as President Donald Trump will not eliminate protections that allow undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children to stay in the country.
While it looked like Trump officially reversed his pledge to deport those immigrants, as the Department of Homeland Security announced late Thursday night that it will continue the Obama-initiated program that protects them from deportation and provides them with work permits so they can find legal employment, the White House later clarified that position. Trump administration officials said Friday morning that Trump had not made a decision about the long-term fate of the program and might yet follow through on a campaign promise to take away work permits from the immigrants or deport them, according to The New York TImes.
#DREAMers have proven their value to America, becoming teachers, doctors, lawyers& entrepreneurs. They deserve a fair shot at American Dream— Senator Dick Durbin (@SenatorDurbin) June 15, 2017
The Homeland Security update was welcome news for about 70 undocumented students who received Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status and are enrolled in medical schools nationwide. Some of those students, working toward their dream of a medical career, expressed anxiety earlier this year from the uncertainty created by Trump’s election and his promised crackdown on illegal immigrants and the threat of deportation.
‘Dreamer’ docs worry about immigration nightmare https://t.co/xdIpVeHy5V In a nation that needs MDs....sheesh.— Dr. Brian Goldman (@NightShiftMD) February 23, 2017
A fact sheet posted on the Homeland Security website says immigrants enrolled in the DACA program, created by an executive order issued by former President Barack Obama in 2012, “will continue to be eligible” to renew their status every two years. “No work permits will be terminated prior to their current expiration dates,” the fact sheet says.
Immigration rights activists, who have fiercely battled Trump’s travel ban and increased enforcement of other immigration laws, welcomed the decision.
“This is a big victory for Dreamers amid months of draconian and mean-spirited immigration enforcement policy,” David Leopold, an immigration lawyer, told the Times.
The travel ban, which would suspend the issuance of visas to residents of six Muslim majority countries, and the Trump administration's immigration policies have drawn criticism from many healthcare leaders who fear a detrimental impact on an industry that depends on foreign doctors and medical students to staff hospitals, clinics and research labs.
A second U.S. Appeals Court on Monday blocked Trump’s revised travel ban, and healthcare organizations asked the Supreme Court not to issue a stay of the injunctions against it.