A proposed rule by the federal government would deny asylum to foreign nationals if they come from, or recently passed through, certain countries. Immigration officials say the rule would protect national security by slowing the spread of communicable diseases like COVID-19. But the American Medical Association is criticizing the proposal, calling it a form of discrimination against asylum seekers.

‘Legalize discrimination’

In a statement on the subject, the AMA quotes a letter that the group’s executive vice president and CEO, Dr. James L. Madara, wrote to federal officials. “The AMA is concerned that the proposed rule would legitimize discrimination against vulnerable asylum seekers,” Dr. Madara wrote. He also said the rule would base the determination of whether an asylum seeker is eligible on border agents who are “uninformed” about medical matters, and overall make it much more difficult for people seeking a stay of removal based on a credible fear of torture or persecution in their country of origin.

Normally, the AMA does not involve itself in political matters, especially ones that do not have to do with medicine. But Dr. Madara’s letter states that the fact that the rule is based on public health concerns justifies his comments. He believes that the process of determining if a would-be asylee has a communicable disease should be determined by health officials on a case-by-case basis.

The move would also indirectly harm public health in the U.S., the letter claims, by discouraging “those with medical knowledge and expertise” from trying to come to the country.

Your best source of information in changing times

U.S. immigration and asylum law is continuously shifting. It can be hard to know where you stand, whether you are planning to come to this country to request asylum, or you are facing deportation. Your immigration attorney should be someone who keeps on top of new laws and regulations to give you the best possible legal representation.