On Wednesday, past, we learned of the latest detestable action of the Trump administration: the expulsion of children from hospitals around the country, where they have been admitted for specialized medical care, which was unavailable to them in their home country. These admissions were approved, on humanitarian grounds, by an agency of the Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement; but that approval was summarily withdrawn, and the persons involved were given 33 days to get out of the U.S. The agency, itself, was apparently blindsided by this turn of events.
I used the word “detestable” in this letter, but honestly, I don’t think that captures the baseness and mean-spirited aspects of this fiat. Adults, admitted to the U.S. under the prior policy, are also being ordered to leave; but, somehow the action against the children seems more draconian and downright hateful. Some have argued that this was being done to keep the cost of this medical care being provided to patients who are undocumented from being passed on to taxpayers.
During my 38-year career at the Children’s National Medical Center in D.C., we commonly admitted children from around the world who needed care for anything from congenital organ defects to the reconstruction of the esophagus in a child who had accidentally ingested lye. In some cases these charges were paid by the embassy of the patient’s country. In cases where the patient’s country was unable to pay, the charges would be written off as charity care, and absorbed by funds donated by supporters of the hospital for this purpose, so that no cost was passed to taxpayers. Children’s Hospital has a motto and policy: “Let no child be turned away.” Aren’t our president and our country big enough to follow the example enshrined in that policy.