The Trump administration thought that by exempting international doctors treating COVID-19 victims from its June order further restricting legal immigration, this blatantly xenophobic attack would look just a teeny bit less cruel, but it’s fucked that up too. ProPublica’s Dara Lind reports that, surprise, a number of doctors who should’ve been excluded from the ban found themselves stuck outside the U.S. and were approved only after the outlet pressed the administration.
“Many consulates started approving doctors’ visas on Thursday, after ProPublica asked the State Department about the delay,” Lind reported. “Others say they’re still awaiting guidance.”
“ProPublica has heard from 10 would-be medical residents stuck abroad because of H1-B visa issues,” Lind wrote, including six who’d managed to get emergency consulate visits but “were told their visas could not be approved.” While the Trump administration announced the ban more than a month ago, Lind reports the State Department posted guidance about exemptions only last week, because what urgency?
“On that day, many of the residents ProPublica spoke to said they had suddenly received visa approvals,” she wrote. “’A quite remarkable turnaround, given that I received a rejection email three days ago,’ one said. In at least five countries, however, consulates were still not processing doctors’ visas.” She writes that “[a]t one New York City hospital serving low-income residents, nearly half the incoming class is still stuck abroad, multiple sources confirmed to ProPublica.”
Lind reports that many hospitals are worried about delays that could stretch out into the rest of the year as positive COVID-19 cases surge. The Trump administration’s reaction has been to pretend everything’s just fine. Not just pretend everything’s fine, but actively working to make it worse: “This ban, which has few exceptions, will harm employers, families, universities, hospitals, communities, and delay America’s economic recovery,” the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) said in a statement received by Daily Kos last month.
As immigrant rights advocacy organization America’s Voice noted, the Trump administration has also sought to deport nearly 30,000 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients who work on the pandemic front lines. While the administration lost at the Supreme Court last month, the impeached president has threatened to end the program yet again as he defies court orders to fully reopen the program. But protesters are the lawbreakers, right?
“The Trump nativist agenda has always been cruel, unpopular, and bad policy,” America’s Voice Director of Communication Doug Rivlin said in the statement, “but it’s now actively harming our national response to the pandemic and directly threatening many of the workers America is relying on and grateful towards.”