Trump Administration Reverses Plan to End Deportation Protections for Sick Migrants

By Shani Saxon Sep 03, 2019

On Monday (September 2), the Trump administration walked back plans to eliminate a special protection that allowed immigrants of undocumented status to avoid deportation while they or members of their family sought medical care, NBC News reports.

As Colorlines reported on August 27, the “deferred action” program doesn’t offer a path to citizenship, but it allows people in need of medical care to seek government-assisted health benefits. It also allows parents to legally work in the United States while their children receive treatment. The elimination of the program drew backlash from immigration advocates and members of Congress. “This is a new low,” Senator Ed Markey (D-Mass.) told The Associated Press. “Donald Trump is literally deporting kids with cancer.”

That changed on Monday, when U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) said it would “reopen the deferred action process,” according to NBC. The agency released a statement, saying, “While limiting USCIS’ role in deferred action is appropriate, USCIS will complete the caseload that was pending on August 7…. As USCIS’ deferred action caseload is reduced, the career employees who decide such cases will be more available to address other types of legal immigration applications on a more efficient basis.”

USCIS previously sent notices ordering people who applied for the special medical protection “to leave the country within 33 days or face deportation, which can hurt future visa or immigration requests,” according to The AP. However, the agency now says that, “no one who had been sent an earlier letter was targeted for deportation,” NBC reports. 

It is unclear what will happen to those seeking the special protection who didn’t apply before the August 7 deadline.