A doctor that was born in Canada and now is on the frontline treating U.S. coronavirus patients was not allowed permanent status in the country due to President Donald Trump’s move against immigration during the height of the pandemic.
“It’s heart-wrenching. I feel helpless,” Julia Lafrate, an intensive care unit (ICU) doctor in New York told CNN’s Chris Cuomo Tuesday.
“I’m putting my life on the line every day to do this … I’m honestly beside myself. It’s like a slap in the face,” Iafrate added.
According to CNN, Lafrate is currently an assistant professor at Columbia University Medical Center. She has lived in the U.S. for 13 years, 10 of which were spent completing a residency program at the Mayo Clinic and a sports medicine fellowship at the University of Iowa before starting at Columbia three years ago.
She is currently sponsored by the hospital she practices in but had her green card application denied last week. Iafrate is in the process of filing an appeal.
“It’s heart-wrenching … I don’t know what to do. I don’t know what I could have done better,” she says. “I don’t know what I could have done any differently.”
This week, a bipartisan Senate bill was introduced that would make it easier for doctors and nurses to obtain green cards.
“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,” Senator Dick Durbin said in a statement.