The doctor who discovered elevated levels of lead in the blood of children in Flint will be a special guest at the presidential address to a joint session of Congress Tuesday night.
Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha hopes her presence at the speech on Capitol Hill amplifies the message she wrote in a recent opinion piece for the New York Times, and says she has a specific message for President Trump:
“I wasn’t born here, and restricting people like me and many of my colleagues in medicine and outside of medicine (is) appalling. It’s not what our country is based on.”
In New York Times article, Hanna-Attisha harshly criticized President Trump’s Jan. 27 travel ban on immigrants from seven countries. Dozens of lawsuits have challenged the order, and a panel of California judges issued a nationwide stay.
Hanna-Attisha says she would not have been in Flint to discover the lead contamination if such a ban had already been in place.
“I wouldn’t have been in this country. I’m Iraqi-American,” Hanna-Attisha says. “I wasn’t born here, and restricting people like me and many of my colleagues in medicine and outside of medicine (is) appalling. It’s not what our country is based on.”
Hanna-Attisha cites an estimate by the Association of American Medical Colleges that about 25 percent of all practicing physicians in the U.S. were trained in other countries. She contends that a travel ban like what Trump proposed could keep doctors from uncovering the next crisis in places like Flint.
“It’s hard to recruit to Flint. It’s hard to recruit to areas like rural America. So it’s often our immigrants who come and serve our communities where no one else wants to go,” Hanna-Attisha says.
Hanna-Attisha wrote in her editorial that efforts to limit immigration will corrode the American Dream as surely as lead corroded the water system in Flint.
She talked about it with WDET’s Quinn Klinefelter.