Supreme Court upholds Trump travel ban opposed by many healthcare groups

A travel ban that was opposed by a healthcare industry that depends on foreign doctors and workers was upheld today by the Supreme Court.

The justices voted 5-4 (PDF) that President Donald Trump acted within the law in imposing limits on travel from several predominantly Muslim countries.

The president, shortly after taking office, implemented a travel ban that had implications for foreign-born doctors, medical students and patients who seek care in the United States. The ban immediately raised fears from groups that represent physicians, hospitals and medical students about the negative impact on the healthcare community.

Thirty-five organizations, including some of the most influential medical and physician groups in the country, filed an amicus curiae brief in the case in March urging the Supreme Court to reinstate an injunction on the travel ban. They argued the healthcare workforce relies on health professionals and scientists from foreign countries.

The Trump administration's executive order bars most people from Chad, Iran, Somalia, Libya, Syria and Yemen from entering the United States. The order was challenged by multiple states and human rights groups who say it's intentionally discriminatory against Muslims.

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The Supreme Court ruling ends the long-standing dispute. Writing for the majority, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. said the president had the statutory authority to make national security judgments regarding immigration.

Trump took to Twitter to respond to the ruling.

The White House released an announcement calling the ruling a victory. "Our country will always be safe, secure and protected on my watch," Trump said.

The Association of American Medical Colleges, one of the healthcare organizations opposed to the travel ban, said in a statement it was disappointed in the court’s decision. “As we expressed in our amicus briefs challenging the various executive actions over the past year and a half, nationality-based exclusions will worsen the nation’s health professions shortage and impair our ability to advance medicine and protect public health,” said the group’s president and CEO Darrell G. Kirch, M.D.

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Healthcare industry groups have played an active role in the debate around the White House's immigration plans, including pushing Congress to act quickly on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. Physician groups also spoke out about the administration's policy separating immigrant children from their parents at the U.S. border.

Amid the uncertainty about the future of immigration policy, there has been evidence of fewer international doctors seeking jobs in the United States. The most recent impact of tighter immigration rules was a concern over delays in the issuance of visas for non-U.S. international medical graduates set to begin work as residents in U.S. hospitals in early July. The U.S. Immigration Services cleared the way for issuance of those visas.