By Mihir Zaveri
The doctors tapped by the federal government to medically screen immigrants seeking green cards include dozens with a history of “egregious infractions,” according to a report from a federal watchdog agency.
The report looked at more than 5,500 doctors across the country used by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services as of June 2017 to examine those seeking green cards. More than 130 had some background of wrongdoing, including one who sexually exploited female patients and another who tried to have a dissatisfied patient killed, the report said.
The report, made public Tuesday by the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General, said the failure to effectively screen the doctors put immigrants “at risk of abuse.”
“USCIS is not properly vetting the physicians it designates to conduct required medical examinations of these foreign nationals, and it has designated physicians with a history of patient abuse or a criminal record,” the report states. “This is occurring because USCIS does not have policies to ensure only suitable physicians are designated.”
Alma Rosa Nieto, an immigration lawyer and vice chairwoman of the American Immigration Lawyers Association’s media advocacy committee, called the report’s findings “very troubling and frightening,” particularly given that the people undergoing the examinations are vulnerable.
“These are people that are in great need,” she said. “They are desperate to get their green card.”
Doctors must apply to be part of the government’s pool of screeners. Once approved, they conduct the mandatory medical exams for immigrants who are looking to become permanent residents and get green cards. Immigrants can be turned down if they are found to have a disease that could be a public health threat, have a mental disorder that could threaten others or are drug addicts.
The report did not identify the doctors who engaged in misconduct, nor did it reveal whether they are still on the government’s approved list.
Source: The New York Times