Marcia Frellick

September 13, 2017

SAN ANTONIO, Texas — Delegates on Wednesday directed the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) to stand strongly against the Trump administration's plan to rescind Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) protections.

On September 5, President Trump ordered an end to the program begun under President Obama that shields young undocumented immigrants from deportation. Trump charged Congress with passing a replacement before protections phase out in 6 months.

But the actions have raised widespread controversy. On Wednesday, Colorado became the latest state to join more than a dozen others in a lawsuit filed against the Trump administration for its DACA stance.

In addition, a poll of 1976 registered voters released September 13 by POLITICO/Morning Consult also showed that most voters also oppose deporting "dreamers."

The poll, conducted September 7 to 11, indicated that 54% of voters want Congress to establish a path to citizenship for DACA youth, and another 19% want them to be allowed to stay without establishing citizenship.

Now, the family medicine community is speaking out in support of DACA youth. Shani Muhammed, MD, from California, one of three authors of the resolution, testified Monday at the AAFP 2017 Congress of Delegates, saying, "We know that it currently affects thousands of our patients both psychologically and physically, threatening their health if they were to be deported."

"It will also affect some members of our current applicant pool in medical school and some current medical students."

That statement is supported by a letter American Medical Association Executive Vice President and Chief Executive Officer James Madara, MD, sent to US congressional leaders earlier this week. As reported by Medscape Medical News, Dr Madara noted that in 2016, 108 students protected by DACA applied to US medical schools. Loss of DACA status for these trainees will "generally exacerbate the physician shortage our country is facing, especially for our most vulnerable patients," he wrote.

At the AAFP Congress of Delegates, Rupal B. Bhingradia, MD, from New York, an alternate delegate with the new physician constituency, reiterated the concerns for patients. "Some will avoid essential visits to doctors out of fear of deportation. The result would be a care crisis for a population that is already largely underserved and marginalized."

However, Jim Taylor, MD, an alternate delegate from Louisiana, reminded the attendees that, "The 'D' in DACA stands for deferred.... There was no guarantee at any point that people under that rule could stay as long as they wanted. That was a temporary decision," he said.

He added that AAFP should not be a forum for Trump-bashing, and that the president's decision to charge Congress with finding an alternative was a good one.

"This is the best option, to allow Congress, who's supposed to make the laws, actually do their jobs." "It is time we stopped using these people as hostages to enact political theater," Dr Taylor said.

Stephanie Benson, MD, an alternate delegate from New Mexico, who practices along the border in Las Cruces, told Medscape Medical News, "I personally know some of these children, adolescents, and young adults. They play with my daughter at home and school, they serve in our local military, reserves, and National Guard, and attend our medical school.

"They need continued access to education and healthcare, and deporting these 800,000 individuals to nations where they have never lived would adversely affect their health as well as the health of the communities they leave behind," she said.

The speakers have disclosed no relevant financial relationships.

American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) 2017 Congress of Delegates. Presented September 11 and 13, 2017.

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