Pediatricians across California are calling on Congress to pass legislation protecting immigrants brought to the U.S. as children, saying their patients are skipping appointments because they’re afraid a visit to the hospital will get them deported.
Doctors and hospital administrators have started formulating protocols so that staff members will know what to do if immigration agents enter hospitals or clinics to search for, or arrest, people who are in the country illegally.
“We want to be prepared if agents do show up and say ‘I need to see the father of the child in Bed Four,’” said Dr. Michael Anderson, president of UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospitals in Oakland and San Francisco. “Legally, we can ask the agents to leave and say ‘This is a place where we care for kids and families. This is not a place for these sorts of interactions.’”
Anderson was one of about 50 doctors, and a handful of students, lawyers and politicians, including the city’s mayor, who rallied outside the Oakland hospital on Tuesday, carrying signs that read: “We Stand With Dreamers” and “You Are Welcome Here.”
Similar rallies were held at hospitals in San Francisco and Los Angeles, with the goal of urging national lawmakers to come up with an immigration fix by the end of the day February 8, when Congress must pass a spending bill to keep the government running. But Democrats agreed that they will not force a shutdown, as they did last month, because of a commitment from Republicans to debate an immigration bill separately from the budget.