The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) is an advocacy organization with many public and private constituencies. It advocates on behalf of more than 400 medical school and teaching hospitals. The AAMC motto, "One Voice," reflects a shared commitment to advancing the best interests of its member organizations, while respecting their individuality.
The recent confrontation between the Trump Administration Executive Order (EO) 13769 affecting immigration from seven predominantly Muslim countries, and the Washington State federal judge's temporary restraining order and the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling has impacted medical students, residents and faculty members working at this nation's medical schools and academic health centers. On February 1st, the AAMC was joined by the American Council for Graduate Medical Education and the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates in expressing concerns about the President's EO. The AAMC also joined with fifty other organizations to send a letter to the President, further expressing concern about the potential negative impact of the EO on the physician workforce in underserved areas, biomedical research activities in laboratories, and shared values of diversity and cultural competency.
Another particularly pressing concern is the potential "injury" to international medical graduates' participating in the current National Resident Match Program (NRMP). Primarily on the basis of potential adverse Match effects, the AAMC has considered working with external counsel to file an amicus brief with the district court in connection with the plaintiff's motion for preliminary injunction in this or future legal cases. Along with more than 150 other U.S. allopathic medical schools, New York Medical College was invited to participate in this AAMC amicus brief.
The Latin noun amicus means friend; the plural amici means friends. When entering into a legal matter by submitting a written and/or oral argument, a person or an entity that is not a party to the case joins the conversation as a friend of one party. An amicus brief is one small example of how our courts work under the U.S. Constitution. Being a "friend of the court" in this case is just one way by which citizens can stand up for the rights of future citizens of this great country.
My wife Heather and I came to this country in 1982 -- me on a J-1 educational visa for a cardiology fellowship at Emory University, and she on an H-1 work visa to teach high school in Norcross, Georgia. We crossed the border into New York State pulling a U-Haul trailer, showing our visas to the border patrol officers who politely asked if we were bringing in any guns, to which one of us replied, "No... should we?"
After completing my training, I got a "real" job and my own H-1 visa to work at the Audie L. Murphy Veterans Administration Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas. We traveled back and forth to visit family in Canada and took trips abroad to international medical meetings. It was always a little stressful to fill in the extra declarations before border crossing interviews, but we looked North American and traveling with two small children probably gave us brownie points. Eventually, well before 9/11 changed everything, we both secured U.S. Permanent Resident Alien status and the requisite "green cards" (the cards were actually pink, not green).
In all our travels, we were never "vetted" per se when crossing the U.S. border.
After a mere thirty years residing and working in these United States, and after birthing two American children, in 2012 Heather and I applied for U.S. citizenship through the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS). I was working in Canada at the time, and the requisite trips to the Atlanta INS office for testing and interviews were far from convenient. But we persevered, and Heather received her U.S. citizenship in time to vote in the 2012 presidential election! My INS paperwork was "lost," then "found," and my citizenship notice followed soon thereafter.
Now when we return to the U.S. from Canada or elsewhere, a U.S. customs official's greeting of "Welcome Home" often accompanies our re-entry. And while crossing any border is stressful, coming to this country carrying a valid visa, green card or passport should ideally include a friendly gesture. Legal immigrants should be afforded a civility similar to that with which America has welcomed The Millers.
AT HEART, AMERICANS ARE AMICI!
D. Douglas Miller, M.D., C.M., M.B.A.
Dean, School of Medicine
New York Medical College