Population Care

Southern border: Conditions at immigrant detention centers

The AMA has been, and continues to be, deeply committed to ensuring the health and safety of all individuals regardless of immigration status. We have been vocal, urging the Administration and Congress to work with the AMA and other medical and mental health care experts to develop policies that ensure the health of children and families is protected throughout the immigration process.

Immigration advocacy

See how the AMA advocates for immigrants.

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Statement on DNA-sample collection from immigration detainees

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) issued a proposed rule to begin collecting DNA samples from hundreds of thousands of immigrants each year and to enter the results into a national criminal database.

On Dec. 17, 2019, in accordance with policy adopted during the AMA 2019 Interim Meeting, the AMA strongly urged the DOJ not to expand the use of DNA-sample collection in its proposed rule.

Statements on health and safety conditions at immigrant detention centers

  • On June 19, 2018, the AMA sent a letter to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the DOJ, consistent with AMA policy adopted during the 2018 Annual Meeting of the AMA House of Delegates, urging the federal government to withdraw its zero tolerance policy.
  • On July 24, 2018, several national health care organizations, including the AMA, sent letters to the U.S. House and U.S. Senate asking for oversight hearings on the care given to families in DHS-run detention facilities.
  • On Dec. 18, 2018, the AMA joined 12 other medical associations and specialty organizations in a sign-on letter strongly urging the DHS to implement specific meaningful steps to ensure that all children and pregnant women in CBP custody receive appropriate medical and mental health screening and necessary follow-up care by trained providers.
  • In July 2019, in accordance with current AMA policy, the AMA called on the DHS and CBP to address the condition of their facilities at the southern border, which are inconsistent with evidence-based recommendations for appropriate care and treatment of children and pregnant women.
  • The AMA also provided a written statement to the House Committee on Oversight and Reform (COR) in advance of their hearings entitled, “Kids in Cages: Inhumane Treatment at the Border,” and “The Trump Administration’s Child Separation Policy: Substantiated Allegations of Mistreatment.”
  • Additionally, the AMA drafted its own letter and signed on to two letters of support for H.R. 3239, the "Humanitarian Standards for Individuals in Customs and Border Protection Custody Act," along with 13 other health care organizations (letter one to Chairmen and Ranking Members and letter two to Speaker of the House Pelosi).

Statement on asylum seekers and vaccinations

On Sept. 13, 2019, the AMA sent a letter urging the administration to allow asylum-seekers to receive all medically-appropriate care, including vaccinations, in a patient-centered language, and culturally appropriate way upon presentation for asylum regardless of country of origin.

Statements on the mental health of children in Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) Care

  • On Sept. 18, 2019, the AMA submitted a letter to the U.S. House Committee on Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies regarding the hearing entitled, “Oversight Hearing: Mental Health Needs of Children in HHS Custody.”
  • The AMA voiced our concern that with the opening of additional ORR facilities, immigrant minor children, in the custody of ORR could be administered psychotropic drugs despite the lack of evaluation by appropriate medical personnel, and potentially without parental or guardian consent or court order when the child is in no imminent danger to self or others, in violation of applicable laws.

Additional advocacy activities

Learn about the AMA's advocacy efforts related to: