For now, President Donald Trump’s immigration ban—an executive order with damaging implications for the healthcare industry—is on hold.
A three-judge federal appeals court panel on Thursday unanimously voted not to reinstate Trump’s executive order temporarily barring entry to the U.S. of nationals from seven predominantly Muslim countries. The order raised alarm in the medical community because of the travel restrictions it imposed on foreign-born doctors, medical students and patients seeking care in the U.S.
Trump took to Twitter minutes after the ruling from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, vowing further legal action. "SEE YOU IN COURT," the president wrote, later telling reporters the ruling was “a political decision.”
SEE YOU IN COURT, THE SECURITY OF OUR NATION IS AT STAKE!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 9, 2017
The appeals court ruled that the Justice Department had not shown that keeping the president’s controversial travel restrictions on hold would cause “irreparable injury.” The Trump administration is expected to appeal the ruling to the Supreme Court, which remains short-handed. A 4-4 tie vote there would leave the appeals court ruling in place, according to The New York Times.
Trump’s decision to issue an executive order Jan. 27 that suspended entry for people from seven countries for 90 days had an immediate impact on the U.S. healthcare industry. For instance, a Cleveland Clinic medical resident was banned from returning to the U.S. until complicated discussions allowed her return and an Iranian baby in need of lifesaving heart surgery was temporarily prevented from entering the country.
The ban also created fears about the impact on international medical students vying for training programs at U.S. hospitals, as well as young doctors in training who are already working here. The ban even raised worries about pending medical conferences, with leaders of those events issuing strong opposition statements and some physicians and scientists canceling plans to present their work, according to Medscape.
One doctor, Dhruv Khullar, M.D., a resident physician at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, said he worries about the impact of the ban on his patients. The mother of a 23-year-old cancer patient presented him with her son’s certificate of American citizenship because she feared he might not be treated or would be turned over to some authority because of his Arabic heritage, he wrote in an essay in The Washington Post.