DACA Health Professions Letter December 2017

December 13, 2017

The Honorable Mitch McConnell
Majority Leader
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510

The Honorable Chuck Schumer
Minority Leader
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510

The Honorable Paul Ryan
United States House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515

The Honorable Nancy Pelosi
Minority Leader
United States House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Majority Leader McConnell, Speaker Ryan, Minority Leader Schumer, and Minority Leader Pelosi:

On behalf of the undersigned health professions organizations, we urge you to ensure that all members of the health care workforce with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status are able to continue their employment, education, training, and research, with passage of a permanent legislative remedy as soon as possible. By providing a legal pathway to permanent residency for undocumented Americans brought to the U.S. as children, Congress can help our country produce a diverse and culturally responsive health care workforce to meet the needs of underserved populations, promote health equity, and avoid unnecessary disruption in our education and training systems.

While current DACA recipients will not lose their status until March 5, 2018, health professions students with DACA status and the institutions that train them need a definitive remedy as they enter the next stage of their education and career. For example, on September 6, 2017 — a day after the administration’s decision to rescind the DACA executive action — medical students with DACA began submitting applications to residency programs to complete their training. Teaching hospitals and medical schools are currently interviewing these applicants, and in January both will submit their rank order lists for the National Residency Matching Program or “Match.” This process involves a significant investment by all parties involved and is a critically important part of U.S. academic medicine.

With the nation’s population growing and becoming increasingly diverse, it is crucial that the health professions workforce respond to the changing demographics of the country to mitigate racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic health disparities. Research demonstrates that diversity in the health professions leads to improvements in access to care for underserved communities, and some studies have shown that patients report greater satisfaction with clinical care when they are treated by providers from the same racial/ethnic background. Diverse health professions school classes also enhance the ability of the entire workforce to provide culturally competent care to individuals regardless of their background.

Health professions students with DACA status encompass a diverse, multiethnic population, who are often bilingual and more likely to practice in underserved communities. Legislation granting lawful presence in the U.S. and work authorization to the narrow cohort of undocumented students that meet DACA criteria would enhance our health care workforce and restore certainty to health professions schools and residency training programs.

Our organizations are dedicated to promoting a culturally competent, diverse, and prepared health and biomedical workforce that leads to improved care and health equity. A permanent legislative remedy would help us achieve this goal. We urge congressional leadership to advance legislation as soon as possible to ensure health professionals participating in DACA are able to continue their employment, education, training, and research.


Alliance for Academic Internal Medicine

American Academy of Dermatology Association

American Academy of Family Physicians

American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine

American Association of Anatomists

American Association of Colleges of Nursing

American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy

American Association of Colleges of Podiatric Medicine

American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine

American Association of Directors of Psychiatric Residency Training

American Board of Medical Specialties

American College of Physicians

American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists

American Geriatrics Society

American Medical Association

American Medical Student Association

American Nurses Association

American Organization of Nurse Executives

American Physiological Society

American Psychiatric Association

American Psychological Association

American Society for Clinical Laboratory Science

Asian Pacific American Medical Student Association

Association for Prevention Teaching and Research

Association of Academic Health Sciences Libraries

Association of American Medical Colleges

Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges

Association of Anatomy Cell Biology and Neurobiology Chairs

Association of Bioethics Program Directors

Association of Chairs of Departments of Physiology

Association of Family Medicine Residency Directors

Association of Nurses in AIDS Care

Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry

Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health

Association of Schools of Allied Health Professions

Association of University Anesthesiologists

Association of University Professors of Neurology

Association of University Anesthesiologists

Associations of Departments of Family Medicine

Council of Emergency Medicine Residency Directors

Council on Social Work Education

Emergency Medicine Residents’ Association

GLMA: Health Professionals Advancing LGBT Equality Heart Failure Society of America

HIV Medicine Association

Infectious Diseases Society of America

Institute of Healthcare Improvement

Latino Medical Student Association

National Association of Hispanic Nurses

National Council of Asian Pacific Islander Physicians

National Hispanic Medical Association

National Organization of Nurse Practitioner Faculties

North American Primary Care Research Group

Pre-Health Dreamers

Society of Academic Associations of Anesthesiology and Perioperative Medicine

Society of Emergency Medicine Physician Assistants

Society of General Internal Medicine

Society of Surgical Chairs

Society of Teachers of Family Medicine

The Addiction Medicine Foundation

The Association of Psychologists in Academic Health Centers

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