Washington, D.C. – In response to President Trump’s decision to suspend the entry of certain temporary workers in a recently signed proclamation, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard E. Neal (D-MA), and Subcommittee on Immigration and Citizenship Chairwoman Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) expressed their concerns over the Proclamation’s impact on many H-1B health workers and researchers that are needed amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Even though Proclamation 10052 exempts individuals working on COVID-19-related care and research, the Proclamation is overly restrictive, and limiting the supply of health workers during this crisis puts all Americans at risk. In a letter to Secretary Pompeo, Acting Secretary Wolf, and Secretary Scalia, the lawmakers detailed how harmful this restriction is for health care at large and particularly for the rural and underserved communities that rely on immigrant physicians.
“Critical to controlling any pandemic is the ability to rapidly deploy the health workforce to care for patients, mitigate spread, and advance health research agendas that offer rapid solutions,” the Chairs wrote. “Without an adequate health and research workforce, we risk the unnecessary loss of more lives and further obstacles to our economic recovery. As noted by the American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC), ‘[r]estricting these gifted international researchers and physicians from entering the U.S. will not help our economy, but rather will hamper the ability of our medical schools and teaching hospitals to make scientific progress.’ Ultimately, it will reduce health care access across our nation.”
Nadler, Neal, and Lofgren emphasized that “the United States needs the strongest possible health care and research workforce now more than ever. Importantly, this includes individuals who provide care or conduct research in areas other than COVID-19. Health workers and researchers working on issues unrelated to COVID-19 free up others to focus on COVID-19, while continuing to provide essential care and conduct critical research that cannot stop because of the pandemic.”
In conclusion, the lawmakers explained how “Section 4 of Proclamation 10052 directs the Secretary of Homeland Security to consult with Secretaries of State and Labor and to recommend to the President any necessary modifications to the Proclamation. As such, we urge you to recommend that the President modify Proclamation 10052 to exempt all health workers and researchers from the suspension on entry because they all serve the national interest.”