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Say You’re Sorry, Donald

I’ve never met Dr. Suha Abushamma or Dr. Kamal Fadlalla. 

But of all the frustrating stories circulating since President Trump issued an executive order barring immigrants from several predominantly Muslim countries, their travails hit closest to home. 

Both Suha and Kamal are internal medicine resident physicians. From Cleveland Clinic and Brooklyn Interfaith Medical Center, respectively. Like me, they have endured the rigorous calling that is American medical training, including not only graduation from medical school, but also the completion of four board exams, a vigorous interview process, acceptance to a medical residency and ultimately working long hours caring for very sick patients.

In fact, they must have excelled – only the best foreign medical graduates gain entry to medicine residency in America.

Yet what was their reward for such hard work? After President Trump’s travel ban last month, Dr. Abushamma was physically deported to Sudan from John F. Kennedy airport in New York and her work visa was withdrawn. On the same day, Dr. Fadlalla was barred reentry to America after visiting family in Sudan, despite having an active specialty occupation visa.

After several courts challenged the executive order last weekend, both Dr. Abushamma and Dr. Fadlalla were able to return home during the interregnum while the ban is lifted. 

The doctors’ exclusion from the United States was not only an atrocity from a moral perspective, but also from a practical and functional standpoint. When a resident physician is unable to work, there are broader ramifications outside of their immediate absence. 

Who takes care of their clinic patients? Who fills in for them during in-patient rotations on the hospital wards? A rising physician’s personal medical education is not only disturbed, but the residency program may be stretched thin, forcing some physicians to work overtime and potentially violate hour restrictions. 

What’s even more ironic is that since the federal government pays all medical residents’ salaries, President Trump’s administration actually continued to compensate both doctors during their “banishment” despite not permitting them to work. 

Ultimately, the greatest harm falls on the most vulnerable – American patients. A medical resident’s absence creates a domino effect that harms the whole community. 

Luckily, there are fail-safes such as coverage schemes and “sick-pull” lists built into residency programs in order to deal with a resident’s absence, which their hospitals surely utilized.

But despite the heavy publicity received by the two physicians’ cases, the Trump administration was silent and likely ignorant of the potential aftermath of a medical resident’s absence.

At the very least, while the legal details of the travel ban reversal and the justice department’s rebuttals are elucidated, the Trump administration ought to apologize to the doctors and their respective medicine programs for their unjust exclusion from the country. Ideally, the government would go one step further and retroactively pay for their travel expenses.

By its nature, medicine is an inclusive, ecumenical and optimistic calling, the central mission of which is a humane desire to help and heal. Physicians are also lifelong students. The Trump administration ought to bear in mind the sage-like writings of Sir William Osler, a father of modern medicine – “The true student is a citizen of the world, the allegiance of whose soul, at any rate, is too precious to be restricted to any one country.”

Geoffrey Rubin is a cardiology fellow in New York. His commentaries have appeared New England Journal of Medicine, Pulse, JAMA Cardiology and The New York Times.

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15 replies »

  1. He has apologized and according to the people I know that have worked with him and know him he is quite polite and gracious.

    From memory I think the most famous apology is for the 2005 locker room video where things were said that are always said in a men’s locker room. That apology is in text and video.

    He has been around a long time and needs to deal with people, banks and lawyers that aren’t stupid so one has to recognize that the characterization created by the mainstream news media has to be inaccurate.

    Look at his family. His kids appear well brought up. He has been called an anti-Semite, but all 5 of his grandchildren are Jewish and his daughter Ivanka converted to Judaism. That tells you how much crap is being thrown at him. I am not encouraging you to support him, just to look a bit deeper than mud slinging we see from the media.

  2. “But has this president apologized for anything … ever?”

    Yes.

    But if one (not anyone in particular) is more interested in demonizing a man who has failings, like every human being, they or others might not hear the words of apology when stated.

  3. John, “I was speaking for the law and the Constitution”. The trivialities had to do with less important things “that divert us off course.”

    I am glad to hear you are a law and order individual.

  4. Drive over to your local police department and ask them about the “trivialities” of the Constitution. That’s the point …

  5. Not that anybody is keeping track …

    But has this president apologized for anything … ever?

    I may have missed something, but the words “I’m sorry” do not appear to exist in his vocabulary. We may need a translator. There may be some sort of equivalent, a coded phrase? Body language? Tweet about new topics?

  6. ” but any idiot like Trump (and yourself) ”

    Nice insulting language, the type of which is the last resort of fools.

    The point is the President has the legal authority to determine which aliens can come into this country. But , the President quickly recognized that perhaps denial of entry shouldn’t be extended to certain people. I quickly agreed with the point that the executive order should have been written better, but apparently you can’t remember the earlier dialogue. The important thing is that President Trump is responding to legitimate American fears and will protect Americans even if some good aliens are excluded. There are billions in the world, if given the chance, who would trade places with any American that thinks this nation to be a bad nation.

    “Are you blind or just stupid?”

    Another nasty and insulting statement. It is clear you only absorb the news of the looney left so perhaps you should take the sentence above and look in a mirror.

  7. Yes, methods can be improved, but any idiot like Trump (and yourself) can just blindly shut the border to people who have already been vetted (many for about 2 years) to get green cards, to get refuge status, to get visas.

    “So far Trump hasn’t shown the qualities you suggest.”

    Are you blind or just stupid?

  8. Peter, you don’t know what you are talking about. First let’s deal with the stupidity often mimicked by others like yourself. You say “ not one of the people who were turned away at the border was a terrorists.” You don’t know if someone is a terrorist until the bomb goes off or a threat is revealed. Additionally it is doubtful that terrorists at the border will automatically reveal themselves. There are methods to better verify who people are, but those methods don’t work as well from those 7 countries and that was recognized by the Obama administration.

    We have a lot of information that is available to the American public, but even more that is secret and not available to judges which is why in the ruling from the Supreme Court circa 1942, SC Justice Jackson said that things of this nature are political NOT judicial and don’t belong in the courts. Your specious arguments have been made on and on in our history and have been proven wrong over and over again.

    You parrot statements “since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, only…”, but fail to rectify the mistake made by Bobby. You are looking at the past. You are fighting the wrong war the wrong way. Before the Berlin Wall fell you would have pointed your missiles at Germany and Italy rather than the Soviet Union, the present threat. Your talents do not point towards national defense so try and find another interest.

    So far Trump hasn’t shown the qualities you suggest. He wishes to keep America safe and that is an admiral goal. He isn’t a politician, says what is on his mind and has been quite transparent. Maybe that is a good thing, but I note how you, the Democrats and the press focus on the least important issues. His main focus seems to be jobs and immigration. If I remember correctly Corretta King wife of MLK was concerned about these issues as well.

    As far as your final argument which is the childish approach to statistics remember 9/11 took over 3,000 lives and shortened many others. That type of terrorism could be dwarfed by a future attack something that will be known only after it occurs. Over 700 homicides occurred in the Democratic city of Chicago mostly minority that require stronger police activity to protect the innocent not less police activity to protect the criminal. Why you don’t wish to keep America safe is beyond anyone’s understanding.

  9. “President Obama rightfully singled out those 7 nations that were included in Trump’s order. We have seen the results of terrorism here and abroad. It is the responsibility of our government to secure our borders from terrorism.”

    First you have not learned yet that Trump is a liar or you have chosen to use his lies to advance your own agenda. Second, not one of the people who were turned away at the border was a terrorists.

    “When given a chance, the Obama administration specifically rejected the citizenship-based restrictions that Trump has now ordered. So while the names are the same, the approach is the polar opposite.”

    “since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, only 23 percent of Muslim Americans involved in extremist plots had family backgrounds in the seven countries identified by Trump — and that, “there have been no fatalities in the United States caused by extremists with family backgrounds in those countries.”

    And finally Trump exists to create crisis and spread fear and hate, as any demagogue would, while the Republican party rides along to use ignorance and hate to keep power.

    And maybe you’d like to tell us what our chances are of being killed by a foreign terrorist as apposed to being killed by an American citizen given that there are about 13,000 gun deaths a year.

  10. “ we ALL know that the people killed on 9/11 were murdered by green card holders from Yemen, Somalia, Syria, Iran, Iraq, Libya, and Sudan. Makes perfect operational / analytical sense to ban these people. ”

    I am sort of shocked to hear such static thinking from you. That logic would mean that post WW2 we would point our missiles at Germany and Italy instead of at the new threat, the Soviet Union, that was not contained.

    You place yourself in this lousy position by copying the silly talking points from the left without, I believe, relying upon your intellect. Even Obama recognized those 7 nations as dangerous. I think, though Trump had not been careful in his wording pre Presidency and didn’t word his executive order correctly, it exactly follows the law and a supremely important Supreme Court decision. Take note that many deeply involved in security and in government have openly stated that vetting people from these nations at this time was mostly impossible. I look more to the threat than to a static view of the past, but would consider stronger regulations against other countries where terrorism has existed.

    President Trump can declare any group as a danger to America and not permit them entry. The Supreme Court recognized that this is a political question not one for the judiciary to be involved with. Later a law was passed that again provided the President with such powers. The judge overstepped his authority and didn’t even provide a ruling based upon the law or the prior Supreme Court decision.

    As far as Sessions is concerned, he is one who lives by the Constitution. I don’t know of any proof that Sessions is against all immigration though you appear to believe that.

    Can you show us the proof?

  11. Of course, we ALL know that the people killed on 9/11 were murdered by green card holders from Yemen, Somalia, Syria, Iran, Iraq, Libya, and Sudan. Makes perfect operational / analytical sense to ban these people.

    “contempt for process and our democratic traditions”

    That’s Trump’s blood type. Mr. “I ALONE Can Fix It.”

    Interesting too that we now have a clod of an Attorney General who is loudly on record as being against immigration per se. e.g., from Fake News NPR:
    __

    SIEGEL: I mean, Sessions’ interest goes beyond removing criminals or dangerous people. In 2015, he co-authored a paper on immigration in which he argued that the big problem here is that unemployment among native-born Americans is higher than it is among foreign-born people living in the United States. He claims immigration – legal and illegal – is bad for the economy, for native-born Americans.

    BENNETT (LA Times, also Fake News): In the big picture, Jeff Sessions has long believed that the U.S. should reduce its foreign-born population and has advocated for reducing legal immigration for that reason…
    __

    “bad for the economy, for native-born Americans.”

    Just ask the ACTUAL “native-born Americans.”

    Sessions voted ELEVEN times in the Senate against ANY kind of immigration policy reforms. He wants these furriners OUT, dad-gumb it.

  12. John, as I said, I did not agree with the way the order was written, but the intent was appropriate and its basis complied with the law. It should not be something to be used as a political football especially in a new administration that was still waiting for its attorney general to be approved.

    The order was altered to satisfy the problems it created and if you think further alterations were necessary then go ahead and list them. Don’t make the excuse that I shouldn’t speak for the rest of us. I wasn’t. I was speaking for the law and the Constitution trying to skip the trivialities that divert us off course.

  13. I do know people who died in the 9/11 attacks. And people who died in Iraq. And Afghanistan. Don’t speak for the rest of us.

    A plan to protect us, yes. But do it lawfully. I have a real problem with the contempt for process and our democratic traditions that is being shown here.

  14. Do you know anyone that died from 9/11? I think their friends and families were inconvenienced to the extreme. It makes what you say seem trivial and wanting. I too would feel bad if colleagues weren’t admitted to the country because of such an order, but I would be happy to know that someone is out there trying to protect our lives. The order was for a limited time frame, 90 days, to provide time for a better plan to assure that people entering our shores weren’t doing so to hurt Americans or the nation. Individuals from those 7 nations are very difficult if not impossible to vet at this time. That is something that Obama understood.

    Do I agree with how that order was written? No, but within 48 hours those with right to be here were permitted. President Obama rightfully singled out those 7 nations that were included in Trump’s order. We have seen the results of terrorism here and abroad. It is the responsibility of our government to secure our borders from terrorism.

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