In an internal letter, the CEO and president of Montefiore Health System roundly rejected anti-immigrant sentiment and vowed to protect patients, employees and students regardless of immigration status and uphold the institution's commitment to "healthcare as a basic human right."
The letter was circulated to the Montefiore community Monday evening, three days after President Donald Trump issued an executive order banning immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries and five days after he ordered a wall to be constructed along the U.S.-Mexico border.
"We are in the midst of a challenging time. The ideals upon which our nation was built are being questioned," CEO Dr. Steven Safyer wrote. But Montefiore is committed to the idea that healthcare is a basic human right, and it will stay true to its values of "humanity, innovation, teamwork, diversity and equity," he wrote.
The countries listed in the executive order were Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Sudan and Yemen. The order also indefinitely barred Syrian refugees from entering the country and suspended the admission of all refugees to the U.S. for four months.
Montefiore is an academic medical center that cares primarily for low-income patients in its hospitals and clinics across New York's borough of the Bronx, where more than 117,000 undocumented people are estimated to live, some of whom seek medical care at Montefiore.
The institution would not provide information about the immigration status of its patients, students or employees "without appropriate legal proceedings," Safyer wrote. Nor would it "contact or question anyone on the basis of immigration status or to discover their immigration status, except as legally required."
Applicants to Montefiore's Albert Einstein College of Medicine and its other graduate programs would be treated equally, no matter their immigration status, Safyer added. It would continue to offer financial aid regardless of immigration status too, even if the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival policy was rolled back. DACA was put in place by former President Barack Obama to allow certain undocumented immigrants who arrived as children to seek work permits and request to defer deportation.
The letter did not explicitly mention Trump or his recent executive orders, but it voiced support for marches and demonstrations that protested the Trump administration, its policies and its proposals.
"We have achieved greatness as a country in part due to the hard work, dedication and sacrifice of generations of immigrants. The Bronx has always welcomed immigrants," Safyer wrote, pointing out that his own grandparents escaped persecution in Poland and settled in that very borough. "We must continue to defend our values and our mission."