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Udall, Heinrich Join Healthcare Workforce Resilience Act

Bill would recapture unused visas and allocate them to health care professionals in fight against COVID-19

WASHINGTON–U.S. Senators Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) joined the bipartisan Healthcare Workforce Resilience Act which would recapture a limited number of unused visas from prior years and allocate them to doctors and nurses who can help in the fight against COVID-19. The Healthcare Workforce Resilience Act would not increase current immigration numbers and also would not displace American workers.

The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the need for additional health care professionals across underserved communities in New Mexico and the nation. The Healthcare Resilience Act serves as a first step to ensure qualified physicians and nurses may serve to meet our nation’s healthcare needs by authorizing 25,000 immigrant visas for professional nurses and 15,000 immigrant visas for physicians. The bill allows for recapture of unused immigrant visas under Section 106(d) of the American Competitiveness in the Twenty-first Century Act of 2000 in order to quell healthcare shortages that our country is currently facing especially in rural communities.

“COVID-19 is placing tremendous pressure on our nation’s health care resources, and rural and Tribal communities in New Mexico are disproportionately affected by a lack of access to trained professionals who are saving lives every day. The bipartisan Healthcare Workforce Resilience Act relieves some of that pressure by extending unused visas to foreign nurses and doctors,” Udall said. “This is an all-hands-on-deck moment, and we should support these frontline health care workers, including immigrant frontline health care workers, who are willing to assist our nation in the fight against this pandemic.”

“Immigrant nurses and doctors play a vital role in New Mexico’s healthcare system, especially in rural and Tribal communities,” Heinrich said. “Too many health care professionals in our country are working with temporary visas, and have approved immigrant petitions, but face an increasing backlog for green cards. I am proud to join the charge for the Healthcare Workforce Resilience Act to recapture thousands of unused, congressionally-authorized immigrant visas and bolster the nation’s health care workforce during the COVID-19 pandemic. I will keep doing everything in my power to fight for a strong public health response that is based in science and ensure that health care systems in New Mexico have the personnel and support they need.”

Joining Udall and Heinrich as cosponsors are U.S. Senators Sonny Perdue (R-Ga.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Todd Young (R-Ind.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), and Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Tom Carper (D-Del.), Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Angus King (I-Maine), James Lankford (R-Okla.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Jackie Rosen (D-Nev.), Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.).

Learn more about the Healthcare Workforce Resilience Act here.