Jump to Main Content

Press Releases

ASH Statement on Executive Order to Suspend Work Visas

Latest restriction on immigration will harm health care workforce, curtail medical research and practice, and hinder economic recovery

(WASHINGTON, June 24, 2020) — President Trump recently signed an executive order suspending immigration visas for the rest of the year. The order halts the issuance of new visas, including H-1B visas and some J-1 visas, but does not affect current visas or renewals.

In response to the order, ASH President Stephanie Lee, MD, MPH, of Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center issued the following statement:

“We are concerned and disappointed by the suspension of immigration of skilled workers to the United States. The health of our nation relies on a diverse group of professionals who bring unique experiences, expertise, and skills to medical research and patient care. This order will limit our ability to attract talented researchers and practitioners from other countries, not only hindering our present and future health care workforce, but also slowing biomedical research progress and harming public health.

We feel it is especially irresponsible now, during the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic, to endanger our research enterprise and health care services by closing our borders to skilled medical workers. While the executive order exempts health care professionals involved in COVID-19 care or research, it makes no such exemption for health care workers involved in treating and researching other serious diseases and life-threatening conditions such as heart attacks, cancer, and blood disorders.

The executive order also threatens economic stability. Biomedical research creates billions of dollars in national economic output each year. Researchers from other countries play a vital role in that economic success; nearly one-third of the U.S.-trained academic workforce in science and engineering is born outside of the United States, according to a National Science Board report. Research has laid the foundation for the development of many cutting-edge treatments that have decreased the costly burden of illness in the United States and saved lives. By preventing some of the world’s greatest minds from participating in U.S. biomedical research, we will hamper our national economic progress.

We urge the Administration to consider the harmful effects of its executive order on our national public health and our economic stability.”

The Society has previously issued statements in opposition to U.S. immigration restriction efforts, most recently in February 2017, March 2017, and June 2018, and continues to reaffirm its support for a global scientific and medical community.

The American Society of Hematology (ASH) (www.hematology.org) is the world’s largest professional society of hematologists dedicated to furthering the understanding, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of disorders affecting the blood. For more than 60 years, the Society has led the development of hematology as a discipline by promoting research, patient care, education, training, and advocacy in hematology. ASH publishes Blood (www.bloodjournal.org), the most cited peer-reviewed publication in the field, and Blood Advances (www.bloodadvances.org), an online, peer-reviewed open-access journal.

Leah Enser, American Society of Hematology
[email protected]; 202-552-4927