Workforce issue

After executive order, WVSOM students worried about leaving the US

Green-card holders Amir Eslami, OMS IV, and Yalda Eslami, OMS II, worry that future changes could threaten their ability to re-enter the U.S.


The president’s executive order on immigration has Iranian-Canadians Amir Eslami, OMS IV, and his sister Yalda Eslami, OMS II, afraid to leave the country. Over the weekend, they almost faced the frightening scenario of their father being barred from re-entering the country after a trip to Iran for a funeral.

Fortunately, the Eslamis’ father, a green-card holder, returned from Iran without incident. But in the days leading up to his Sunday flight, the Eslami family, glued to the news, was worried sick because it initially appeared that the ban would also apply to green-card holders, and details of the ban were changing constantly.

Now, Amir and Yalda Eslami are reluctant to leave the country, fearing they could be refused re-entry. This means they won’t participate in medical missions, attend international science conferences and visit family in Iran.

Amir Eslami, OMS IV (left), with his father, mother and sister, Yalda Eslami, OMS II (second from right).

“I have a few weeks of vacation time coming up when I finish medical school,” says Amir Eslami, a green-card holder who came to the U.S. as a teenager in 2005. “After four years of medical school, I was looking forward to traveling, but now I’m planning to stay in the U.S.

“Even though they say green card holders are exempt, I’m not willing to take the risk. I wouldn’t want to put my family through what I went through the past few days.”

Osteopathic support

Over the weekend, as the Eslami family anxiously awaited their father’s return, Amir Eslami says he and his sister were encouraged by the outpouring of support they received from the osteopathic medical community. Amir Eslami has received phone calls and messages of support from faculty and staff at the West Virginia College of Osteopathic Medicine as well as fellow students.

“I didn’t expect to receive so many personal messages of encouragement,” he says. “So many people have asked me if I’m doing OK. Everyone has been really supportive and helpful.”

Amir Eslami urges medical professionals to reflect on the AOA Code of Ethics, which prohibits DOs from refusing treatment on any discriminatory basis, including national origin, creed or race.

“As osteopathic physicians, we are committed to serving the underserved and we understand that all people have the same medical problems,” he said. “The borders that we’ve drawn divide us, and we shouldn’t let hatred and bigotry get in the way of health care.”


  1. Ken Williams

    This article is political in nature. The AOA and this publication should be concerned with healthcare related issues and those concerns with patient care. The AOA should stay out of politics and follow the law. The type of liberal political action from the AOA is wrong. I would not be a AOA member but they force me to pay membership fees to keep board certification.

  2. Harriet A. Fellows, DO, FACN

    Clearly, as per the above comment, this article will yield more political statements than meaningful dialogue. We took an oath. We should follow the oath and most of us do. We don’t need a reminder to do so. That said, I agree that politics should not be injected into our dialogue as Osteopathic physicians; frankly, there’s enough to worry about without politics.

    No family should be separated and all students in school in good standing should have no reason to worry about continuing their studies. Recent bellicose, negative, phobic remarks by those in power and those supporting them do not serve to promote the basic human rights of any person in this UNITED states. With respect, Dr. Williams, I hope you write an article about the dues you pay to stay certified; and MS2 and 4 Eslami, try to concentrate in your studies while the dust settles from this inconvenient and ego threatening time in our country’s adolescence.

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