Trump’s new immigration ban poses potential health risk
© Getty

On Monday, President Trump issued the second version of his ban on immigrants from primarily Muslim-majority countries. 

This new ‘Muslim Ban 2.0’ attempts to dodge some of the constitutional barriers that stood in the way of the original Muslim Ban, but commits the same fatal flaw by going after vulnerable new Americans.

The most obvious assault is on American ideals. The order targets immigrants – the kinds of people who founded this country to begin with – who seek a better life in our country in their effort to flee war and despair. But less obvious is the attack on healthcare access for vulnerable Americans who might have lived here for generations.

ADVERTISEMENT
Recent data from the Immigrant Doctors Project at the Harvard Economics Department demonstrates the ways in which immigrant doctors, and specifically those from the targeted countries, are essential to the fabric of American healthcare in our most vulnerable communities. Immigrant doctors provide more than 2 million patient appointments nationally in areas with some of the most severe doctor shortages across our country.

 

Prior to resigning my position to run for Governor of Michigan, I served the City of Detroit as Health Director. In Detroit, we faced a drastic and dangerous shortage of physicians. I personally witnessed the pain that Detroiters across the city went through because they lack reasonable access to a doctor. 

Given the economic turmoil of the past 50 years, the limited public transportation options, and the poverty of much of our community, the primary care workforce is limited to fewer than 100 primary care doctors for a population of nearly 700,000 people. This leaves Detroiters with little recourse to appropriate medical care – even with health insurance in place.

A large proportion of these doctors come from countries affected by the ban. The Muslim Ban will compound their difficulties, and will almost certainly place a heavy burden on other communities that are already experiencing drastic health shortages.

Worse, consider that up to 50 percent of Detroiters rely on Medicaid for healthcare insurance, which is in limbo under the new healthcare plan released by House Republicans. Taken together, ACA repeal and the Muslim Ban will amount to a two-tiered blow for healthcare access for communities like mine.

My Muslim parents immigrated to this country in search of a better life. My mother, a physician in Egypt, now treats hundreds of patients suffering from mental health challenges as a nurse-practitioner. 

I trained as a physician with the goal of dignifying the Quranic verse that teaches that ‘He who saves a life is as if he has saved all of humanity.’ The many doctors affected by this shortage have come here to practice their craft; to save humanity.

Like any assault on our nation's immigrants, this Muslim ban is an affront to America's spirit of inclusivity and the dignity of those who rely on immigrant doctors for their care.

 Abdul El-Sayed is formerly the Health Director for the City of Detroit and is a Democratic Candidate for Governor in the State of Michigan.


The views expressed by contributors are their own and are not the views of The Hill.