Harvard's DACA students fear an immigration plan that could punish their parents and families

Morales told CNN that she still carries the calculator her father scrimped and saved for and can’t believe that politicians would make her choose between herself and her family. “Each says he or she would rather not accept a path to US citizenship if the same option was denied their parents,” according to CNN. “’They haven’t met my parents,’ Morales says between deep sobs and pauses. ‘They haven’t seen all the work that they have put in, every sacrifice they’ve made.’”

The four students, among the estimated 100 DACA recipients currently enrolled in medical schools nationwide, also spoke out in a joint op-ed, writing that “this is a critical time: Our country faces a shortage of about 100,000 physicians by 2025 across all specialties. Since medical education requires all doctors to complete residency for specialized training and full licensing accreditation, DACA medical students face tremendous uncertainty if they lack work authorization”:

Without DACA, there is no possibility of continuing the natural progression of medical training. Years of hard work would be thrown away — a training truncated. DACA students will not be the only Americans to suffer from this. The communities we hope to serve will also be affected: your neighbors, your family, your friends, and even you.

In this period of acute need for trained doctors, the contributions that undocumented youth can make are substantial. Based on enrollment rates to undergraduate education — and later entry into medical school — it is estimated that DACA students in this country can contribute a new physician workforce of 5,400 doctors in the coming decades. Since more than 90 percent of DACA recipients are Latinos, they can help diversify the physician pool and increase the number of underrepresented doctors in the U.S.

And it’s not just that DACA recipients should be able to stay here in the U.S. because they have important roles and contributions—they are not their roles and contributions—it’s that they should be able to stay here in the U.S. because this is their home. And, this is their parents’ home too. It’s up to all of us to pressure Congress and make sure any plan that pits Dreamer against their parents is one that gets rejected. The op-ed from the four continues:

At the onset of our medical careers we made an oath to you, those who may one day stand before us as patients. The oath is simple: do no harm. With these words, we vowed to make decisions placing you first. We vowed to protect you from all forms of disease, including injustice.

Today, we write to you as medical students with fears of our own. That’s because, in addition to being future doctors, we are undocumented Americans. The uncertainty surrounding our status has become magnified with the rescindment of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. To remain silent on this issue is to counter the role we have to advocate for ourselves and, more importantly, the patients we serve.

“With an impending decision from Congress,” the four conclude, “we ask you to reflect on the contributions we can make, but also remember our humanity.”

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