A Canadian-born doctor on the frontlines of the coronavirus pandemic has had her green card application denied, a decision she called a "slap in the face." In an interview with CNN's Chris Cuomo, Dr. Julia Iafrate said that she is still treating patients in New York despite the bad news.
"I'm putting my life on the line every day to do this, and it's just blowing my mind right now that they are not appreciating it or they don't see the value in what I'm offering to do," she explained. "I'm honestly beside myself. It's like a slap in the face." Iafrate, an assistant professor at Columbia University Medical Center, volunteered to help treat coronavirus patients and has since made it clear that hospitals were and are under-prepared for the ongoing crisis the country faces.
Having lived in the United States for 13 years, Iafrate has been a team physician for the USA Ski Team and has worked at Columbia University's Medical Center for three years. "I was blindsided," she said when asked about the green card application. "I was flabbergasted, and so was my immigration lawyer and so was my chair of my department and everyone else involved in this case. ... I was just blown away that at this time, of all times, they don't think it's necessary to have someone like me here."
When she was informed her application was denied, she revealed on Instagram she has just 30 days to appeal the decision. "It's heart-wrenching," she added. "I don't know what to do. I don't know what I could have done better."
In a subsequent post shared on Instagram on Wednesday, Iafrate pointed out she's not the only doctor on the frontlines to face these issues. "The immigration system is broken," she wrote. "I appreciate all the support and I appreciate the @uscis reviewing my case. I hope I can go back to focusing on my job. Thank you for your support."
Earlier this week, a bipartisan senate bill was introduced in hopes of making more green cards available to doctors and nurses on the frontlines. "It is unacceptable that thousands of doctors currently working in the U.S. on temporary visas are stuck in the green card backlog, putting their futures in jeopardy and limiting their ability to contribute to the fight against COVID-19," said Illinois Senator Dick Durbin.