Trump Backs Down, Won't Deport Sick Kids (While Anyone's Looking)
Nearly a month after news broke that the Trump administration was ordering critically ill immigrants to go back to their home countries and die, setting off a wave of negative press coverage and public outrage, the Department of Homeland Security announced late last week it would return to its previous policy of finding excuses to deport everyone else it possibly can.
In a letter to the House Oversight Committee, DHS wrote that (acting) Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan had directed US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to resume taking applications for "medical deferred action." The agency had ended the program without any announcement in August, and those who had been receiving life-saving treatment only found out about it when they received letters telling them they had 33 days to leave the country, regardless of whether the treatments they needed were available in their home countries.
Rep. Ayana Pressley (D-Massachusetts), who represents a number of immigrants being treated in the Boston area, called the return to something like normal a victory "for all of the children and families who have been dehumanized by this cruel Administration," and credited activists and public outcry for the reversal: "When we fight, we win."
Pressley was among the congressional Democrats who pushed for a September 11 emergency hearing on the policy, at which DHS officials mostly refused to offer any details on why the medical deferred action program was ended or who had been behind it. Like, it completely reeked of Stephen Miller's sepulchral death-stank and his tactic of finding dark corners of immigration law to exploit, but no one would say the name.
The DHS statement made no mention of the controversy, simply noting in the blandest bureaucratic prose possible that USCIS
is resuming its consideration of non-military deferred action requests on a discretionary, case-by-case basis, except as otherwise required by an applicable statute, regulation, or court order[.]
Immigrants who had relied on the program, which offers two years of eligibility to stay in the US and to work while they or a family member are treated for a critical illness, said they're hopeful that this latest episode of Trumpfuckery is over. Isabel Bueso, the 24-year-old woman who came to the US to participate in clinical trials for a treatment that now keeps her enzyme disorder in check, told the New York Times,
While we have not received any official confirmation that our deferred action case will be approved, we are cautiously optimistic about this news.
It's worth noting that the decision to reinstate the deferral process came after the House Oversight Committee had scheduled additional hearings this week on the matter, and that it had called (acting) USCIS Director Ken Cuccinelli and (acting) Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director Matthew Albence to testify.
DHS shouldn't have any illusions that the matter is settled by the announcement that deferments would be processed again. Oversight Committee Chair Elijah Cummings still wants answers, thank you very much:
Because of the secrecy and obstruction surrounding this policy, we will be taking additional steps to verify that these children and their families do not need to live in fear and uncertainty [...] Our committee will continue to seek answers about who was responsible for this cruel policy in the first place.
Not that we really expect Cuccinelli or Albence to show up or provide any documents, because after all, the "president" can do anything he wants.
And now we can all breathe a sigh of relief, at least until the next moment when we gasp at the breathtaking evil of this administration's next immigration cruelty.
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Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.