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AMA J Ethics. 2017 Mar 1;19(3):221-233. doi: 10.1001/journalofethics.2017.19.3.peer1-1703.

How Medicine May Save the Life of US Immigration Policy: From Clinical and Educational Encounters to Ethical Public Policy.

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Fr. Michael I. English, SJ, Professor of Medical Ethics at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine in Maywood, Illinois, and the director of the Neiswanger Institute for Bioethics and Health Policy and the chair of the Department of Medical Education.


Medicine has a conceptual contribution to make to the immigration debate. Our nation has been unable to move forward with meaningful immigration reform because many citizens seem to assume that immigrants are in the United States to access benefits to which they are not entitled. In contrast, when medicine encounters undocumented immigrants in the health care or medical education setting, it is obvious that their contributions to our health care system are denied by exclusionary laws. When the system is amended to be inclusive, immigrants become contributors to the systems that they access. I illustrate this thesis concerning the benefits of inclusion through an examination of the issues of forced medical repatriation, access to health insurance, and the access of undocumented students to medical education.

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