Trump administration U-turns on decision to deport migrants with life-threatening health issues

One week after its introduction Trump backtracks on policy that 'deported kids with cancer' after backlash

Miriam Jordan
Tuesday 03 September 2019 11:39 BST
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The Trump administration announced on Monday it would reconsider its controversial decision to force immigrants facing life-threatening health crises to return to their home countries, an abrupt move last month that generated public outrage and was roundly condemned by the medical establishment.

On 7 August, the US Citizenship and Immigration Services, without public notice, eliminated a “deferred action” program that had allowed immigrants to avoid deportation while they or their relatives were undergoing lifesaving medical treatment.

The agency, part of the Department of Homeland Security, had sent letters informing those who had asked for a renewal, which the immigrants must make every two years, that it was no longer entertaining such requests. The letters said the immigrants must leave the country within 33 days or face deportation.

On Monday, the agency said in a statement that while limiting the program was “appropriate,” officials would “complete the caseload that was pending on Aug. 7.”

The statement said deportation proceedings had not been initiated against anyone who had received the letter. However, it did not say whether it would continue to grant immigrants extensions to stay in the country or whether the program would be continued after current applications are processed.

When asked for clarification, an agency official said the agency “is taking immediate corrective action to reopen previously pending cases for consideration.”

“Whether a very limited version of deferred action will continue forward at USCIS is still under review. More information will be forthcoming,” said the official, who only agreed to speak on background.

Among those who had been affected by the administration’s decision to end the program was Maria Isabel Bueso, 24, who has participated in several medical studies, including a drug trial that resulted in a treatment for her rare disease, which causes dwarfism and other physical deformities.

On hearing she had a chance to stay in California, rather than return to Guatemala, where the drug is not available and she cannot receive the required medical care, Ms Bueso said, “This is amazing. This is great news to wake up to.”

New York Times

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