At Tucson Medical Center, staff, volunteers and physicians have articulated our values of community, dedication, integrity and compassion. In our value statement, we state that we respect diversity and individuality — and that we will have the courage to uphold our values. We developed these values to honor our tradition and nourish our dreams.
This week I reflected on our values as I watched the news about the administration’s directive to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program in six months, and I thought about the dreams that were dampened with that singular action. The program, initiated in 2013 by executive order, is to be discontinued by executive order in 2019, jeopardizing the future of hundreds of thousands of young people throughout our country, including tens of thousands in Arizona.
Instead of embracing these young people and encouraging them to be successful workers and productive members of our communities, their future is unclear at best — frightening at worst. Right when we should be shining a light on their successes, we seem to be poised to send them back into the darkness.
These “dreamers” are sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers. They are our friends and neighbors, our colleagues and collaborators, our students and teachers, our friends and families.
Individuals who have received deportation deferrals under DACA are workers and students building for a better future. Time and again, they demonstrate that they are serious about contributing to their families and their communities so they can earn the right to stay in this country. They have embraced the opportunity presented and invested in themselves so they can, in turn, make their communities stronger.
As a health-care leader, one of my greatest concerns is having a robust, compassionate and qualified workforce. We take for granted that medical care is available around the clock. But we already have a national shortage of more than 8,200 primary-care physicians. The numbers grow exponentially when you add in other specialties and when you consider needs in the fields like nursing, technology specialists and engineers that are the backbone of health care.
They are not taking jobs from Americans — they are filling critical, hard-to-fill positions in businesses across the country. In health care, we already know those professionals with DACA status are more likely to work in high-need areas, such as rural communities. In Tucson, we need young professionals who are committed to our community. It is shortsighted to say “no” to the skills, passion and commitment of the dreamers.
At a recent event, I heard Mayor Jonathan Rothschild explain to a group of Tucson health-care professionals who had relocated recently to Tucson that in our city we don’t just accept diversity — we seek it out. At TMC, we seek out diversity — we celebrate diversity — because it makes us better, because we build on opportunity to become stronger. TMC is an organization that respects, honors and celebrates diversity, and we support laws that are reflective of our collective values.
As the immigration debates move to Congress, TMC encourages our Arizona delegation to courageously stand for diversity and provide a viable path forward to these young people. To my colleagues in business, I challenge us all to stand together in support of the dreamers. And, to the dreamers, you have worked hard to earn your place in our communities. We celebrate your many contributions and successes.