Trump Administration Will Stop Treating Sick Migrants Deporting Them Back To Their Home Countries
Last year, the Trump administration stunned the world by announcing an unprecedented “zero-tolerance” immigration policy. Prior to this, families entering the United States without documentation were held together while awaiting their hearing. The new and inhumane policy forcefully separated children from their parents with no exception and led to overcrowding at detention centers.
The Trump administration has a documented record of not caring for migrants’ health and wellbeing.
Slowly and surely, the Trump administration is finding ways to dismantle and remove protections for the undocumented community. This week, another unprecedented and inhumane restriction was announced. The federal government is now ending the “medical deferred action” policy, which allowed immigrants – who have a serious medical condition, such as cancer – to remain protected in the United States without risk of deportation.
Under the policy, the patient and immediate caregiver/parent were able to apply for medical stay with proof that treatment was unavailable in the country of origin. Stay was then granted for two-years at a time, which included a work permit for the family member that accompanied the patient.
Now, the Trump administration is reversing a policy that offered migrants a stay from deportation for medical issues.
Earlier this month, without warning, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) office (a division of the United States Department of Homeland Security) began sending out rejection letters to families protected under this program who had sent in their renewal applications, notifying them they have 33 days to leave the country or face deportation. In addition, the USCIS claims they will no longer be accepting new applications either.
The only exceptions to the new policy change are for those in the military and those protected under DACA.
This could be the difference between life and death for many. Like the case of 16-year Jonathan Sanchez, who is receiving treatment for cystic fibrosis. He and his family are from Honduras, where his parents lost a daughter to the same illness. When Jonathan was a baby, his parents sent in blood samples to the United States in hopes of receiving medical treatment and saving his life. In 2016 they were able to apply and were granted permission to enter the United States under the medical deferral program. Jonathan has now been receiving treatment over the last three years. He is waiting to hear news of his renewal.
WBUR-FM, Boston’s NPR affiliate was the first to break the story a few days ago when the Irish International Immigrant Center began receiving the rejection letters.
As if this wasn’t bad enough, the USCIS department has announced that all applications will now be rerouted and processed through Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) whose mission is to deport immigrants.
Now attorneys are unsure of which way to advise clients because an attempt to fight this change in order to save the life of your child, will now put you and your child in direct risk of possible deportation.
The current acting director of USCIS is Ken Cuccinelli, who was quoted as wanting to alter the words on the Statue of Liberty to instead read “Give me your tired and your poor… who can stand on their own two feet and who will not become a public charge.” Cuccinelli is dedicated to “keeping Trump’s promises” and is currently hard at work finding ways to make life more difficult by denying green cards and visas to immigrants that, currently have or will need, public assistance including food stamps, housing vouchers, and Medicaid. Which implies that only wealthy immigrants would be “welcome.”
Ken Cuccinelli, acting director of USCIS, is standing by Trump’s policies.
“If they don’t have future prospects of being legal permanent residents without welfare, that will be counted against them,” Cuccinelli has stated.
So I guess he’s just going to ignore that whole “give me your tired, you POOR…” part of the Statue of Liberty and American history.
But applications are now being routed to ICE and the man behind that department is, Matthew Albence, the newly appointed Acting Director.
Albence has made controversial statements, like doubling down on his comments during his testimony in 2018, where he stated that the experience in the detention centers – that children are being held in – was comparable to summer camp.
One year later, we now know the truth of the horrific and inhumane conditions the camps are actually in.
But what is most concerning about the man behind ICE, is that in 2017, when he was part of Homeland Security and reported to Secretary John Kelly, Albence actually went a step further than the new Trump administration had instructed. At the time, the directive was to pretty much the same as the original purpose of the organization to “focus on apprehending illegal immigrants that had committed crimes or posed a security risk.”
Except Albenece decided to send out his own memo to agents: “Effective immediately, ERO officers will take enforcement action against all removable aliens encountered in the course of their duties.” This gave the green light for agents to hunt down anyone they “think” is undocumented, regardless of having committed a crime or not.
The head of ACLU Massachusetts has already vowed to that they will fight the medical deferred policy change in court.
What is hopeful is that we are not in this fight alone. The ACLU and MALDEF (and many other organizations) are leading the fight against this administration. What we can do, for those of us that can, is to go out there and vote, stay engaged and follow local and state elections as well. Those that we elect on the local and state level are the people that will ultimately fight or support the current laws and restrictions sent down from the federal government, so choose wisely.