I’m a physician, born in McAllen, Texas. In June 2018, I returned home to demand that immigrant children who had been torn from their families as a result of the Trump Administration’s zero-tolerance policy, be safely and immediately reunited. I demonstrated at a federal detention center in McAllen at the Free the Children Protest. I marched alongside other concerned citizens, and we confronted a bus carrying the children.
With my palms pressed against the bus, I demanded that the government free them. I could not have imagined that just a few months later, I’d demand that the government find them.
Back then, the Office and Refugee and Resettlement had just certified that over 2,600 children had been separated from their families.
The Office of Inspector General (OIG) of the Department of Health and Human Services recently released an updated account. They actually weren’t sure how many children were separated. Turns out they didn’t count them. According to the report, HHS doesn’t know exactly if, when, or how they’ll find the lost children.
I grew up right there, along the south-Texas border, and I know that cattle are better accounted for than these infants and children.
So whose fault is it? In my opinion, the blame falls on Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and Homeland Security Secretary Kristjen Nielsen, both of whom are ultimately responsible for executing the President’s policy agenda through their respective departments. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) systematically separated families. The Department of Health and Human Services failed to identify the children who were separated.
I was born in a rural village outside of Hue, Vietnam in 1976, a year after Saigon fell and the war ended. My family of four struggled to survive in the post-war shambles, and in 1981, my mother had no choice but to flee Vietnam by boat with my older sister and myself. Through the support of the refugee resettlement program, we began our lives in the United States in 1982, wearing all of our belongings on our backs and not knowing a word of English.
Though we struggled for years to make ends meet, we sustained ourselves through public benefit programs: food stamps, Medicaid, Section 8 Housing, and cash aid. These programs were lifelines that enabled me to focus on my education, and they allowed me to be the physician and public health expert that I am today. Looking back, I firmly believe that the more we invest in the lives and livelihoods of immigrants, the more we invest in the United States, its ideals, and its future.
So, when I first learned of the current administration’s plan to make it harder for immigrants with lower socioeconomic statuses to gain permanent U.S. residence, the so-called changes to the “Public Charge” rule, I felt outraged and baffled by its short-sightedness. Continue reading…
An Irish software expert who’d been helping companies sell on eBay walks into a room with a Slovenian inventor who’d built a world-class company in the “accelerator beam diagnostics market.” (Don’t ask.) What they share is not just foreign birth, but “immigration” to health care from other fields. Both have come to the MedCity Invest conference in Chicago seeking funding for start-ups focused on patient engagement. They’re not alone in their “immigrant” status, and their experience holds some important lessons.
Eamonn Costello, chief executive officer of patientMpower, works out of a rehabbed brick building in Dublin next to the famed Guinness brewery at St. James Gate. An electronic engineer who’s worked at companies like Tellabs, Costello became interested in healthcare in 2012 when his father was in and out of the hospital with pancreatic cancer. What struck him was the lack of any monitoring on how patients fared between doctor appointments or hospitalizations.
When in 2014 a friend working in healthcare approached him, they looked at building an app for different illnesses.Continue reading…
Over the last decade, the United States has intentionally made itself less attractive to immigrants, forgetting that immigration has been a huge driver of the country’s economic success. In a recent article (America needs a 21st century immigration policy), leading entrepreneurs, executives and investors including Steve Case and Sheryl Sandberg said:
To some, the link between immigration reform and economic growth may be surprising. To America’s most innovative industries, it is a link we know is fundamental.
The global economy means companies that drive U.S. job creation and economic growth are in a worldwide competition for talent. While other countries are aggressively creating policies and incentives to attract a highly educated workforce, America has stagnated. Once a magnet for the world’s top minds, America now faces a “reverse brain drain” and is no longer the first choice for many entrepreneurs creating new companies and jobs.
America needs a pro-growth immigration system that works for U.S. workers and employers in today’s global economy. And we need it now.Continue reading…