‘Limiting supply of health workers during covid crisis puts all Americans at risk.’
A group of influential Democratic lawmakers have expressed concern over the impact of President Donald Trump’s H-1B restrictions on health workers and researchers that are needed amidst the covid-19 pandemic.
Even though Trump’s June 22 proclamation suspending the entry of H-1B workers until the yearend exempts individuals working on covid-19-related care and research, it is “overly restrictive,” they told the administration in a letter Tuesday.
“Limiting the supply of health workers during this crisis puts all Americans at risk,” wrote House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard E. Neal, and Subcommittee on Immigration and Citizenship Chairwoman Zoe Lofgren.
In a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf, and Secretary of Labor Eugene 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,” they wrote.
“Without an adequate health and research workforce, we risk the unnecessary loss of more lives and further obstacles to our economic recovery,” the lawmakers warned.
Over 100,000 physicians, nurses and health workers of Indian origin have been at the forefront of the fight against covid-19 in the US, world’s worst affected nation with 4.85 million cases and 159,000 deaths.
As noted by the American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC), the lawmakers wrote, “restricting these gifted international researchers and physicians from entering the US 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.”
READ: ‘You’re fired’, Trump warns executives hiring H-1B workers (August 4, 2020)
Nadler, Neal, and Lofgren also 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,” they wrote.
“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,” they wrote.