Trump Kicking Sick Kids Out Of America Now, So They Can Die Elsewhere!
The Trump administration's war on immigrants has reached yet another of its logical conclusions. Not satisfied with seeking to deport people to likely death after doing all it can to eliminate asylum for people fleeing war and gangs, the administration is now marking immigrants -- KIDS -- with grave medical conditions for removal from the USA, regardless of whether they can receive life-saving treatment in their home countries. That's what Make America Great Again means now: send people to die. This isn't metaphorical, or a mere possibility. Thousands of people who have been legally staying in the US because they're being treated for serious illnesses are now being told they must leave voluntarily in 33 days or face deportation. Many of them will die, because they can't get the care they need in their home countries. It's not murder, mind you, because they'll still be alive when they're put on the plane here. Besides, some will probably live, those are just the odds.
National Public Radio obtained a copy of a form letter being sent to thousands of people who are currently allowed to stay in the US under the "medical deferred action" program. As NPR explains, the program
allows people to remain in the U.S. for two-year periods if they can prove extreme medical need. Many of the people affected by the policy change came to the U.S. through a visa or other permitted status and are requesting to stay beyond those terms to receive medical treatment.
Because some idiot always starts screaming about "illegals," we should point out yet again that this is a legal immigration program and the people covered by it are here legally, making them legal to be here, legally. In case anyone's confused.
The letter is chillingly direct: No, sorry, we're ending the program that kept you alive. The letter categorically denies the request for medical deferred action, noting that such protections are only available to military families now, and advises the reader that without the deferral, they're now an illegal alien.
The evidence of record shows that, when you submitted your request, you were present in the United States contrary to law. You are not authorized to remain in the United States. If you fail to depart the United States within 33 days of the date of this letter, USCIS may issue you a Notice to Appear and commence removal proceedings against you with the immigration court. This may result in your being removed from the United States and found ineligible for a future visa or other U.S. immigration benefit.
Go be sick somewhere else, please. If it's fatal, that's too bad. America is about winners now, not losers, and sick people are just depressing. Especially if they have accents.
Update/Clarification: It's worth noting the slippery use of "present in the United States contrary to law" here: Under the deferred action program, these folks were allowed to not worry about being deported after the visas under which they originally entered expired (nearly all were originally legal entrants to the US, using student or travel visas). But under the strictest sense of the law, deferred action doesn't give them legal status like a green card would. Like DACA, it's a decision not to take action against them because of their status. And like DACA recipients, they're allowed to work under the deferral.
As with much of the New Cruelty, the rationale seems to be that medical deferred action is a discretionary program, so the administration is free to end it at whim, because it wants to.
At a press conference in Boston yesterday, Ronnie Millar, executive director of the Irish International Immigrant Center, which has been helping patients in area navigate the deferral process, said, "Just when you think the administration can't sink any lower, it finds a new way to torture our immigrant children and families." Millar also noted that the families he works with "are all here receiving treatment that is unavailable in their home countries, and our government has issued them a death sentence."
The Boston Globe notes the policy change seems to have arrived out of nowhere:
Advocates, lawyers, doctors, and lawmakers said the blanket policy change was made without any consideration of the potentially disastrous health affects it will have on children and adults battling HIV, muscular dystrophy, epilepsy, leukemia, and other diseases.
The Globe details how one child, 7-year-old Joaquim Norville from Guyana, will be affected when deferred action expires next March for him and his mother, Shonell.
They came on a tourist visa in August 2016 to visit Joaquim's grandparents, who are US citizens, and were visiting Franklin Park Zoo when Joaquim fell ill and was diagnosed with epilepsy, Shonell Norville said. Since then, Joaquim has had major problems. His lungs collapsed when he had a seizure, requiring doctors to perform a tracheotomy. He also developed an infection in his colon, requiring the removal of his large intestine and the use of a colostomy bag.
Joaquim currently receives regular care at Boston Medical Center and Boston Children's Hospital to control his seizures, and Shonell Norville said she fears for his life if he is sent back to Guyana, one of South America's poorest countries.
"I tell people, I feel like I'm signing my son's death warrant," she said, adding that she fought to stay in Boston "to save him — now, just to be pushed out. How do you comprehend that?"
Somehow, we're supposed to believe sending a seven-year-old to Guyana to die is good for America. Maybe Stephen Miller could explain it. Maybe it will free up services for American-born poor people, who also don't deserve treatment they can't afford and should just hurry up and die.
NPR's story on the policy change details the case of Jonathan Sanchez, from Honduras, who has the uncurable (but treatable) lung disease cystic fibrosis.
The Sanchez family entered the U.S. on tourist visas in 2016 and was first able to extend. But the treatment was longer than the six-month extension so the family applied for medical deferred action in November. Now, the teen said he is feeling stressed and scared he might need to leave the U.S.
"If they deny the program, then I need to go back to my country, and I'll probably die because in my country, there's no treatment for [cystic fibrosis]," Sanchez said, crying and trying to catch his breath. "Doctors don't even know what's the disease. The only ones who can help me are here in the United States."
Rachel Maddow covered the story last night, and featured Jonathan Sanchez; she also interviewed attorney Anthony Marino, also of the Irish International Immigrant Center (video here).
Trump Admin Looks To Eject Medically Vulnerable Immigrant Kids | Rachel Maddow | MSNBCwww.youtube.com
Immigration lawyers say the notices started arriving without warning, and the government's communication about the policy change is typically opaque and confusing. A spokesperson for US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) told the Associated Press the policy had gone into effect August 7, and in a statement, USCIS said the move was taken to "focus agency resources on faithfully administering our nation's lawful immigration system." The statement also claimed the
"changes to our internal guidance do not mean the end of deferred action." Instead, Citizenship and Immigration Services said it will refer decisions about such cases to Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE.
Big surprise: the letters sent to immigrants don't say a word about ICE taking over the review of medical deferred action requests, and attorneys for immigrants doubt the government is telling the truth, because why would it start now?
"There's no procedure for that," said Anthony Marino, director of Immigration Legal Services at the Irish Immigrant Center. "I think what's happening is they're playing games. I think the deferred action program has ended."
UPDATE: We're sure this will just shock the heck out of you all, but ICE was apparently blindsided by USCIS's explanation that ICE would now be administering the program. "Huh, wha? Me?" said ICE:
#BREAKING: @ICEgov official says agency caught off guard by @USCIS ending #MedicalDeferredAction. It has no program… https://t.co/LEusgm4Mky— Shannon Dooling (@Shannon Dooling)1567022659.0
US Senator Ed Markey (D-Massachusetts) said the latest move is an attempt to "terrorize sick kids with cancer who are literally fighting for their lives."
It is unconscionable. It is wrong. And we are here to say that we will fight [...] We have gathered many times in the last 2 1/2 years since Donald Trump was inaugurated -- many times, these same groups have come together. We have now reached the bottom, though -- the most inhumane of all of Donald Trump's policies are the ones we are here to speak about today.
And somewhere on Twitter, some MAGA idiot explained America is for Americans, so this is simply what needs to happen to people who have no rights that we're obliged to recognize. It's the refrain of the American Nativist, going back forever. Let 'em die, they're not our problem. And no, that's not hypocrisy for "pro-lifers," because we're not actively killing anyone, you see?
Yr Wonkette is entirely supported by reader donations. Give us money and we'll help you keep your head above the bullshit.
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.