The termination of DACA could have catastrophic effects on US health
by Carolyn Gonzalez
The year 2017 has been filled with heated discussions and protests about our current president and his views on domestic affairs, international foreign policy, climate change, and immigration. Most recently, on September 5th, President Trump announced he would be ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program with a sixth month extension so that Congress could determine what to do with the 800,000 beneficiaries of the program. Most Americans seem unfazed by this legislative change and some even support the deportation of undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States involuntarily as children. What many Americans don’t realize is the termination of DACA could have catastrophic effects on US health care as there is already a national shortage of health care professionals.
In the US our population is aging and there are many patients who require around the clock care to meet their medical needs. The home care industry depends on authorized immigrant labor and without DACA many patients with complex health conditions won’t get the care that they require. Additionally, according to a study performed by UCLA’s Center for Latino Health and Culture the number of Latino physicians has shrunken by 22% since 1980. The rate of Latino physicians being produced is not meeting the demand of an ever growing Latino population which means there are less physicians with language and cultural competency to provide quality care to Latino patients. It should also be noted there is a national shortage of 8,200 primary care physicians and a supply of 5,400 ineligible undocumented physicians that could help fill roles in primary care in underserved populations. If immigrant policies supported undocumented medical students, residents, and physicians we could help fill the gap in quality care to both Latino patients and the general public.
So what can we do to help support undocumented immigrants that have lived most of their lives the US, are a part of the US economy, pay taxes, and meet the economic and health care needs of the US? We can contact our local state representatives and state senators and tell them that DACA needs to remain or a better policy to help recipients of DACA to become naturalized citizens needs to be initiated. If you don’t know who the representative for your district is you can go to http://nyassembly.gov/mem/search/ and find their email and telephone contact information to voice your concerns. As Latinos, we need to learn how to help one another and defend our position in US politics as we are vital members of the US economy and health care system and deserve to be here.
Carolyn Gonzalez is a native of Rochester, NY of Puerto Rican descent. She is finishing her first year at the University of Rochester’s School of Medicine and Dentistry. She completed her B.S. in Biology and Society with a double minor in Policy Analysis and Management and Inequalities Studies from Cornell University in 2011. Her medical specialty interests include primary care and psychiatry. She is on the executive board of the school’s chapter of the Latino Medical Student Association (LMSA) who are committed to contribute educational articles relevant to the Latino community.