With so much talk happening around immigration, I wanted to share how the President’s stance on immigration jeopardizes the promising futures of my colleagues.

As a medical student at the Loyola Stritch School of Medicine in Chicago, I have the privilege of learning alongside several students known as “Dreamers.”  These students are young immigrants who have Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status; they are qualified and talented individuals who bring a diversity of life experiences to my medical school. 

One of my “Dreamer” classmates recently described her medical school journey in the New York Times.  From the challenges of funding pre-medical tuition to the many limitations that exist in applying to U.S. medical schools, students without citizenship face an uphill battle when pursuing continued education.  Many work hard to overcome these hurdles and enroll in a medical school program, and, once they do, they are on track to add immense value to our society through their specialized knowledge and advanced skills.

As the American Medical Association notes, the DACA program could have big impacts the medical field, with 5,400 previously ineligible physicians estimated to enter into the U.S. health care system in the coming decades. More than 60 medical schools considered applications from students with DACA status for the current academic year.  At Stritch alone, there are 28 students with DACA status currently studying to become doctors, many of whom have committed to serve underserved communities in Illinois after graduation. 

I believe DACA students enrich my medical school community and collectively make it stronger and more tolerant.  Their presence and contributions have made me and my fellow classmates better equipped to handle the challenges of medical school and the complexities of the medical profession in the twenty-first century.

For example, many of my classmates and I volunteer at a free, student-run clinic in downtown Chicago.  My DACA colleagues are not only able to communicate clearly with our undocumented patients, but they are also able to empathize and gain their trust– two pillars of great medical care.

Sadly, many of these students currently fear that the President’s actions will harm their livelihood and professional futures.  If the DACA program is rescinded, over 800,000 DACA-eligible students’ legal status would be affected.

Some legislators have been alerted to these consequences.  Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Reps. Mike Coffman (R-CO) and Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) have introduced the “Bar Removal of Individuals who Dream and Grow our Economy Act,” the BRIDGE Act, a bipartisan bill that would provide legal protection for these students.

I am proud to be a part of a medical school that strives to develop “physicians for others.”  Our DACA colleagues have left an indelible mark on all of us at Stritch, and I am certain they will continue to do so for society throughout their careers.  We owe them our support.

How you can help: To protect individuals – like my classmates – from deportation, contact your members of Congress today and urge them to support the BRIDGE Act.

 

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