USCIS: 'Stop Us, Or More Sick Immigrant Kids Will Survive!'
A top Trump immigration official recommended that Homeland Security take away the ability of US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to let seriously ill immigrants to stay in the US, according to a copy of her memo turned up by Politico. The memo, written by USCIS Policy and Strategy Chief Kathy Nuebel Kovarik, lays out several options for (acting) Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan before requesting that he strip USCIS of any authority to approve "medical deferred action" to prevent deportation of immigrants receiving lifesaving treatment. While the memo isn't signed by Trump's top white nationalist creeper Stephen Miller, Politico doesn't say whether it was tested for traces of his DNA. We have to assume it was still a little sticky when it was delivered to (acting) USCIS director Ken Cuccinelli.
In the memo, which was "part of briefing materials for a Sept. 9 meeting" led by Cuccinelli, Nuebel Kovarik begs that the heavy burden of deciding who lives and who dies be lifted from her agency. She writes that
USCIS would prefer that McAleenan revoke the agency's authority to grant deferred action unless required to do so by statute — a change that would eliminate any possibility of its honoring such humanitarian requests in the future. If McAleenan doesn't take that route, she says, the agency recommends that he maintain the current freeze on processing deferred action requests.
Among the other options the memo rejected was the clearly untenable choice of keeping the medical deferments exactly as they've been since the creation of DHS in 2003.
Why? Well it's all about being a nation of laws, don't you see? In a bit of decidedly Milleresque rhetoric, the memo claims USCIS simply doesn't -- or shouldn't -- have the legal authority to offer anyone a deferment, and so it mustn't be allowed to do so:
"USCIS strongly believes that the exercise of deferred action is subject to abuse," Nuebel Kovarik writes, "and if we continue to accept such requests, even with narrow medical criteria, we will be creating a de facto 'program' of criteria ... which are not enumerated in statute or regulations."
That's a key part of every single shitty excuse the administration has come up with for deporting more and more people, including Donald Trump's decision to roll back DACA and Lindsey Graham's insistence that people fleeing gangs or domestic violence can't apply for asylum: Existing interpretations of the law have all been wrong, and we are simply applying the law correctly, for the first time ever.
What's more, now that Trump and Cuccinelli have rewritten the poem at the base of the Statue of Liberty to read "Give me your vigorous Norwegian entrepreneurs only," Nuebel Kovarik frets that any exceptions for people with dire medical conditions that can't be treated in their home countries would violate the recently announced Poors Must Fuck Off And Die rule, writing that continuing the medical deferments
runs counter to the president's agenda to enforce our existing laws and potentially contrary to his goal of making sure aliens are self-sufficient.
How true this is: People who are so very ill that they depend on treatments that are only available in the USA ought to be ashamed of themselves. Even if, like Isabel Bueso, their treatment is covered by insurance and they'll die if deported (and in her case, the treatment only exists because she was part of the trials that led to the treatment's FDA approval). Worse, some recipients of medical deferred action aren't even employed at all, like 16-year-old Jonathan Sanchez, who has cystic fibrosis. Why isn't he working in a coal mine like he should be?
Politico also notes the memo explicitly argues that the administration's proposed fix -- that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) take over the decision as to whether anyone's medical needs would merit protection from deportation -- would make the process a lot harder, hooray!
"ICE does not accept any requests for deferred action nor does it accept affirmative requests for prosecutorial discretion for aliens in removal proceedings," the document reads. "Moreover, ICE has no processes or procedures to consider prosecutorial discretion requests for aliens who have yet to come to ICE's attention."
Translated from the Bureaucratic, that means ICE doesn't even consider a request to stop deportation until someone has already been given a deportation order, meaning that nobody would have a reliable process like the regular two-year approvals for medical deferment that now exists. And ICE's acting director of enforcement and removal operations, Timothy Robbins, testified last week that ICE doesn't allow anyone to request mercy before that. Still, be glad and rejoice, because he promised that once a deportation order is issued, the agency will
consider all relevant factors in deciding whether to issue a stay of removal, including any claimed medical basis for this request [...] However, such stays are considered solely on ICE's discretion on a case-by-case basis.
ARE YOU NOT REASSURED? Surely our very fair system would never make a terrible mistake and send anyone off to die, at least not if they were lucky enough to get their names and faces on cable TV. It's not like all 400 people who received those Go Home And Die letters can hope to be featured on TV, so really, who'll even know or care?
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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.