Leading Pediatric Medical Organizations Respond to Recent Executive Orders Impacting Immigrants and Refugees

Internationally trained physicians and immigrant children and families should be protected, not deported

 Washington, DC—The American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Board of Pediatrics, the Academic Pediatric Association, the Association of Medical School Pediatric Department Chairs, the American Pediatric Society, the Association of Pediatric Program Directors, the Pediatric Policy Council and the Society for Pediatric Research join together to issue the following statement. The statement is in response to recent immigrant and refugee-focused Executive Orders that would ban U.S. travel for refugees from certain countries, mandate the construction of a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, call for increased detention and deportation and eliminate federal funding to sanctuary cities.

“Recent Executive Orders issued by the White House have already had wide-reaching and devastating consequences for immigrant and refugee children and families. Refugees are just that—people fleeing violence and persecution and seeking refuge in the United States. Many children affected by the Executive Orders have been waiting for refuge much of their lives, having been born in refugee camps, amid violence or even civil war.

“We have a choice in how to treat immigrant and refugee children; we can care for them, offer them the best possible opportunity to grow and learn and thrive here in our country, or we can turn our backs on them. Children do not decide where they or their parents were born. They do not determine whether or how to travel to the United States. Yet they are here, and often at great expense, fleeing violence, losing loved ones, suffering extreme poverty and adversity. We owe it to these children to protect them.

“These Executive Orders impact our profession as well as our patients; international medical school graduates and pediatric researchers and were among the foreign nationals and refugees
impacted by the recent travel ban. Last year, almost 20 percent of pediatric residents graduated from medical school overseas. These physicians are an instrumental part of the pediatric workforce and often work in underserved areas in desperate need of pediatric subspecialists. Immigrant physicians enrich and diversify our workforce. We work alongside them every day. We share bylines in journal articles and we stand next to them at the bedside of our young patients. Preventing these professionals from traveling or training here to do life-saving work, or otherwise threatening their immigration status, prevents some of the best and brightest minds from caring for some of the sickest, most vulnerable children. It is discriminatory, and it is wrong.

“Today, leading pediatric medical organizations offer a renewed resolve to do everything we can to care for and protect immigrant children, refugee children, and all children. We hold our federal government to that same standard.”