AOC, Ayanna Hold Hearings On Sick Immigrants. Like ICE And USCIS Gonna Answer Questions From A GIRL
Rep. Ayanna Pressley and USCIS official Daniel Renaud; video screenshots

The House Oversight subcommittee on civil rights held an emergency hearing Wednesday on the Trump administration's decision last month to try to deport immigrants who are receiving treatment for severe illnesses. The policy change, which came without any announcement or public input, only became known when immigrants got letters telling them their application for "medical deferred action" had been denied and that they had just 33 days to leave the country or face deportation. Leaving the US would be a death sentence for many, since the life-sustaining treatment they need isn't available in their home countries. On Labor Day, US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issued a notice that it would reconsider some applications, but insisted limiting the deferrals "is appropriate."

Advocates for the relatively small program, along with two people who received the go-home-and-die letters, testified about the very real consequences of ending the medical deferrals. But officials from USCIS and from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), which is supposedly taking over administration of such deferrals, didn't offer any clear answers. Republicans on the subcommittee used their time to argue the whole hearing was a waste of time, because what about the INVASION AT BORDER, huh?

The Washington Post summed up the few facts that could be pried out of the two government witnesses:

[The] two-year, renewable deferrals, which allowed patients and their families to stay in the country and obtain temporary work authorizations, are no more.

Instead, critically ill people would have the opportunity to ask ICE for a stay of their deportation after receiving a final order of removal from the United States, and ICE would use its discretion on a case-by-case basis to offer delays of up to one year, they said.

Not surprisingly, that's not a terribly satisfactory "replacement" for the existing process, because severely ill immigrants would have to wait until ICE had already begun deportation proceedings against them before they could even apply for deferral. Presumably, someone in Stephen Miller's office figured that would really make sick immigrants, or parents of sick kids, think twice about whether "continuing to live" is worth all the fuss.

And no, the You Have 33 Days To Leave letters offered no information on how to appeal the decisions, no mention of applying for a deferment from ICE, nothing. At yesterday's hearing, a representative of ICE would give no details on the "path going forward for deferred action," insisting that "those are internal discussions we are not prepared to discuss."

USCIS associate director for field operations David Renaud made a truly impressive display of dodging virtually every question about why the policy change was deemed necessary, who was behind it (Obersturmbannführer Miller, duh!), or even what exactly the new policy will be. Can't talk about any of it, because there's a lawsuit, you see:

Subcommittee chair Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Maryland) was incredulous:

Raskin: You can't tell me why there's a new policy. You can't tell me what motivated the new policy. And you can't tell me what the policy is. Is that a correct assessment of the situation?

Renaud: That is my testimony, sir.

Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Massachusetts), who represents some of those who've been told to pack up and leave, tried to get Renaud to at least say what office of the government the decision came from, but of course, he really couldn't say, sorry. Finally, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York) told Renaud that Congress actually has some legal authority under the Constitution, and suggested to Raskin that subpoenas might be in order And through it all, Renaud insisted everything was fine, and the deportation threats weren't really deportation threats, because after all, ICE handles deportations.

Pressley was referring to 16-year-old Jonathan Sanchez, a medical deferred action recipient who has cystic fibrosis and testified to the committee, "In my point of view, I think that deporting sick kids like me, it will be a legal homicide."

Fortunately, Republicans on the committee spent their time insisting there was no problem at all, because Democrats just made up the whole issue to scare people. Their invited witness, former ICE director Thomas Homan, now a Fox News Deport-'em-all talking head, testified that USCIS had no legal basis to issue medical deferrals anyway, and so surely ICE would do just fine (yes, there is much Milleresque hair-splitting in that claim).

Homan went on to accuse the committee of hating on law enforcement and the Dear Leader, and of "choosing to ignore a bigger problem that affects many many more lives, many more than this policy change," because INVASION and besides, only a few hundred people might die if we send them back -- although nobody knows, really, exactly how many people will be affected by the end of the program. Republican Glenn Grothman of Wisconsin asked him if he could see sick immigrants "getting kicked out of this country," and Homan -- who is not an actual policy maker -- said naw, that wouldn't happen. See? Grothman insisted, this is just a lot of panic over nothing.

Strangely, Isabel Bueso, who has been in the US since she was seven years old and was in a key clinical trial that saved her life and led to a treatment that's saving others with her rare genetic disorder, doesn't seem reassured by the nice sociopaths in the suits. Rachel Maddow interviewed Bueso last night, and she noted that so far, she has received no reassurance at all that she'll be allowed to stay in the US to receive the weekly treatments that are keeping her alive.

Medically Fragile Immigrant Appeals To Congress In Fight For Life | Rachel Maddow |

She probably shouldn't worry, though. When have Republicans ever lied?

[House Oversight Committee / NYT / WBUR / WaPo]

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Doktor Zoom

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.


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