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AMA Urges Administration To Withdraw “Zero Tolerance” Policy

For immediate release:
Jun 20, 2018
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CHICAGO – The American Medical Association (AMA) today released the following letter that was sent to the Trump Administration urging the federal government to withdraw its “zero tolerance” policy that is separating migrating families from their parents and caregivers. The letter was sent to DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, HHS Secretary Alex Azar and Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

The full text of the letter is below. Download a PDF copy of the letter

Dear Secretary Nielsen, Secretary Azar, and Attorney General Sessions:

On behalf of the physician and medical student members of the American Medical Association (AMA), I am writing to strongly urge the federal government to withdraw its “zero tolerance” policy that requires the separation of migrating children from their parents or caregivers. Instead, we urge the Administration to give priority to supporting families and protecting the health and well-being of the children within those families.

The Administration’s “zero tolerance” policy was a topic recently discussed at the AMA’s Annual Meeting, which includes delegates representing over 170 state and national specialty medical societies. During this meeting we heard from delegates that the Administration’s policy will do great harm to children and their parents or caregivers, who felt compelled to make a dangerous and uncertain journey because of safety concerns in their own countries. Families seeking refuge in the U.S. already endure emotional and physical stress, which is only exacerbated when they are separated from one another. It is well known that childhood trauma and adverse childhood experiences created by inhumane treatment often create negative health impacts that can last an individual’s entire lifespan. Therefore, the AMA believes strongly that, in the absence of immediate physical or emotional threats to the child’s well-being, migrating children should not be separated from their parents or caregivers.

We urge you to take prompt action on this matter. 

James L. Madara, MD


Media Contact:
Jack Deutsch
AMA Media & Editorial
[email protected]

About the AMA
The American Medical Association is the powerful ally and unifying voice for America’s physicians, the patients they serve, and the promise of a healthier nation. The AMA attacks the dysfunction in health care by removing obstacles and burdens that interfere with patient care. It reimagines medical education, training, and lifelong learning for the digital age to help physicians grow at every stage of their careers, and it improves the health of the nation by confronting the increasing chronic disease burden. For more information, visit


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