Minn. AG: Travel ban could devastate rural health care

Published 10:14 am Monday, February 13, 2017

ST. PAUL — Small-town hospitals and clinics in rural Minnesota suffering from a shortage of doctors could be devastated if President Donald Trump’s immigration restrictions prevail, state Attorney General Lori Swanson said.

Foreign-born doctors have helped ease the shortage of physicians in rural Minnesota, a state where one out of five doctors was born in another country, Swanson said.

“That’s huge, and many of them are serving in rural parts of our state to deal with this crisis of not having enough primary care doctors,” Swanson said.

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Swanson, a Democrat, and her team joined Washington state to challenge Trump’s executive order banning travelers from seven predominantly Muslim countries. A federal judge sided with the states by issuing a temporary restraining order on the ban. A federal appeals court upheld the restraining order, though Trump said Friday he is considering signing a “brand new order.”

Swanson said her office has been flooded with emails and phone calls since Trump signed his original order.

“We’re getting contacted by so many people — families who are separated by the ocean. Health care. Universities deprived of scientists who can’t come now. Corporations who are relying on people from some of these countries to help bring know-how to us,” Swanson said Friday. “It’s really quite broad.”

Swanson’s office has compiled more than a dozen sworn statements from those affected by the ban.