Do you remember the outrageous fear Tapio expressed during his doomed U.S. House campaign last winter, when he claimed that 190 Muslim doctors somehow intimidate Republican legislators into political dishonesty? This week, Tapio’s fellow legislators on the Rules Review Committee voted to open South Dakota’s doors to even more foreign doctors, whatever their religion, to fill vacancies in our hospitals via J-1 visas:
Foreign physicians receiving J-1 status stay for three years and decide whether to seek permanent U.S. residency.
Avera for example now has 93 openings in 15 South Dakota communities in 35 specialties.
Brian Bruner, an Avera immigration lawyer, said the J-1 program was important.
“Everyone’s recruiting for retention,” Bruner said. “Foreign nationals will fill in the gaps” [Bob Mercer, “Lawmakers Approve Changes in J-1 Physician-Visa Program,” Mitchell Daily Republic, 2018.09.17].
But isn’t the USD Med School cranking out locally grown graduates to staff our hospitals?
Avera and Sanford officials said South Dakotans typically have left USD medical school seeking different experiences and different weather in other states, rather than for economic reasons [Mercer, 2018.09.17].
In July, Department of Health division director of Health Systems Development and Regulation Tom Martinec told Rules Review that in the 2012–2014 J-1 cohort, 16 out of 32 visa-recipient docs chose to stay in South Dakota.
Those sixteen self-sacrificing immigrant doctors are the kind of people Neal Tapio and his Bigot Brigade are making feel unwelcome in our state. That unwelcoming attitude can only make South Dakota sicker.