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AMA makes it official: Keep immigration ICE agents to stay out of hospitals

Resolution 232 adopted this week by the AMA House of Delegates, argues for the legal designation of healthcare facilities as sensitive locations.

Beth Jones Sanborn, Managing Editor

A little more than a week after an JAMA posted an opinion piece arguing that ICE agents should not be allowed to encroach on hospitals, the AMA has officially adopted a policy opposing the presence of such agents in hospitals and clinics.

Resolution 232 was adopted this week by the AMA House of Delegates, the policy-making arm of the Association. It made the AMA's opposition to the presence of ICE enforcement in healthcare facilities official and argues for the legal designation of healthcare facilities as sensitive locations.  The resolution also pushes for the AMA to help educate medical providers on undocumented patients' rights while receiving medical care.

[Also: Could immigration enforcement in hospitals spawn a public health crisis?]

A recent JAMA viewpoint article authored by three physicians invoked the widely-felt sentiment in their profession that medicine is a higher calling that carries with it an inherent commitment to serve the underserved, protect the less fortunate and provide care regardless of their ability to pay or status.

They argued that hospitals and other medical care facilities should compose clearly defined policies when it comes to dealing with ICE agents, and should train staff on those procedures. Hospitals could also use public awareness campaigns to inform patients that their personal information will not be shared with ICE.

[Also: Immigration ban, potential visa delays pose threats to 'match week' for doctors]

Authors recounted a July incident in which a distraught father at his comatose son's bedside in a San Antonio hospital was accosted by ICE agents, who w entered his son's hospital room and began "aggressively" questioning him. The man was an undocumented immigrant, and his son was in the hospital after being found in a parked, unventilated trailer.

A February incident involved a 26-year-old undocumented immigrant named Sara Beltran-Hernandez, who was bound by her hands and feet and then removed in a wheelchair from a Fort Worth Hospital by ICE agents as she awaited brain surgery, authors said.

Twitter: @BethJSanborn
Email the writer: beth.sanborn@himssmedia.com

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