“I’m putting my life on the line every day to do this, and it’s just blowing my mind right now that they are not appreciating it or they don’t see the value in what I’m offering to do,” Dr. Julia Iafrate told CNN’s Chris Cuomo on Tuesday. “I’m honestly beside myself. It’s like a slap in the face.”
Iafrate is an assistant professor at Columbia University Medical Center who specializes in sports medicine. But she says she wanted to volunteer to work on the front lines as coronavirus cases spiked in her city.
“Because I’m a doctor,” Iafrate said, “because that’s what I do, because I know that I can help.”
Several days ago, Iafrate says she heard from US Citizenship and Immigration Services that her green card application had been denied.
“I was blindsided. I was flabbergasted, and so was my immigration lawyer and so was my chair of my department and everyone else involved in this case,” she said. “They ask you to be an expert in your field … and I am. I’ve proven that time and time again. And I was just blown away that at this time, of all times, they don’t think it’s necessary to have someone like me here.”
Asked about Iafrate, US Citizenship and Immigration Services said in a statement that it doesn’t comment on decisions related to individual cases.
“USCIS evaluates each petition, application and request on a case-by-case basis to determine if they meet all standards required under applicable laws, regulations, and policies. Agency adjudicators may request further evidence and issue subsequent denials when the petitioner provides insufficient evidence to establish eligibility based on the preponderance of the evidence standard,” the agency said. “It is incumbent upon the applicant — not the government — to show that the prospective beneficiary meets the requirements for eligibility under the law.”
Iafrate says she’s appealing the government’s decision in her case.
She told Cuomo she feels helpless for the first time in her life.
“It’s heartwrenching. … 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.”
CNN’s Priscilla Alvarez contributed to this report.