Academic Medicine Weighs In On Trump Immigration Ban


The following is the text of an open letter to Cleveland Clinic Director Delos “Toby” Cosgrove, who happens to be a Trump adviser, signed by over 1,500 (and counting) medical students, faculty and related personnel.

Dear Dr. Cosgrove,

On January 27th, 2017, President Trump signed an executive order indefinitely banning Syrian refugees from entering the United States, suspending all refugee admission for 120 days, and blocking citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the country for 90 days. After this order was signed, students, visitors, green-card-holding legal permanent United States residents and refugees from around the world were blocked from entering the United States and involuntarily sent back overseas. One of these people — Dr. Suha Abushamma — is a first-year internal medicine resident at the Cleveland Clinic. She was diverted back to Saudi Arabia because her passport was issued in Sudan, one of the seven Muslim-majority nations blocked by the executive order. She is currently unable to return to the United States and to her career, despite holding a legally-obtained visa. Trump’s ban also impacts nine patients who are scheduled to receive care at the Cleveland Clinic over the next 90 days.

Far from publicly condemning these actions, the Cleveland Clinic silently continues to promote ties with the Trump administration. The Clinic’s upcoming fundraiser, “Reflections of Versailles: A Night in the Hall of Mirrors,” is still scheduled to be held at Trump’s lavish Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida. Tickets to this event cost between $1,250 and $100,000.

Through this action you are supporting a president who has, in his first ten days in office, reinstated the global gag rule, weakened the Affordable Care Act, fast-tracked construction of both the Keystone XL and Dakota Access Pipelines through legally protected native lands, and banned legal U.S. residents from majority-Muslim countries. All of these actions directly harm human health and well-being in the United States and abroad. Your willingness to hold your fundraiser at a Trump resort is an unconscionable prioritization of profit over people. It is impossible for the Cleveland Clinic to reconcile supporting its employees and patients while simultaneously financially and publicly aiding an individual who directly harms them.

We — the medical students you refer to as “junior colleagues,” and the residents, physicians, and other healthcare professionals who are actively engaged with patient care — ask that you:

I.    Reschedule your fundraiser to a location that does not directly contribute to the financial growth of an individual who has imposed substantial barriers to your employees in providing medical care and to your patients from receiving that care.

II.   Release a public statement:

       a. condemning Trump’s immigration ban

       b. pledging to utilize the full breadth and depth of your power as a world renowned leader in medicine to protect your employees from deportation and to allow your patients to continue to receive care

       c. emphasizing the fact that the Cleveland Clinic values diversity and relies on immigrants to provide medical care.

The Cleveland Clinic has a well-earned reputation as a global pioneer in healthcare, with the power to be a leader in healthcare advocacy and to shape public policy. Next month, fourth year medical students from around the world will be submitting their rank lists for residency. They will seek to rank programs that prioritize supporting residents’ best interests during their training. Please demonstrate to aspiring residents and the global medical community that the Cleveland Clinic is worthy of their continued interest, mentorship, and esteem.

To view the names of all signatories go here. Dr. Cosgrove has yet to respond to the petition. 


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