Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly attributed a statistic to the National Resident Matching Program. We have removed the reference and apologize for the error.
Two court decisions blocking President Trump’s executive order on immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries may have prevented problems for the U.S. health care system.
American health care, which is already doctor-deficient, derives a large number of medical professionals from the seven countries targeted by the president’s controversial migration ban.
The Harvard Business Review reports, based on 2010 figures, 4,180 doctors practicing in the U.S. are Iranian citizens and 3,412 are Syrian citizens. While Trump’s order would not necessarily lead to those people being deported, it would in many instances prevent them of traveling to their countries of origin and returning.
Of greater significance, in the long-term, is the effect restrictive immigration policies might have on limiting the number of foreign-born doctors coming to the U.S. Roughly a quarter of U.S. doctors gained their medical education in another country. The Association of American Medical Colleges reports 260 people could be affected by the ban.
A study by BMJ says Medicare patients are 5 percent less likely to die within 30 days of being admitted to a hospital if they are cared for by a doctor with a foreign degree.
While it remains unclear whether the Trump administration will appeal the appeals court ruling to the Supreme Court, the president has promised further action on immigration that will result in greater levels of restriction than currently exist.
Whatever the details of future immigration are, the tone on the subject will likely deter some would-be immigrants from coming to the U.S. The effect of a reduced influx of workers could have wide-ranging effects not just in health care but in many other industries that depend heavily on non-citizen labor, including technology and agriculture.
Nowhere is the potential effect of an exodus of immigrant labor better displayed than California. Trump’s actions and rhetoric on immigration have led to an outcry from tech executives who employ thousands of immigrants as well as deep concerns from agribusinesses which depend heavily on undocumented workers who toil in the fields for long hours and low pay.