A number of media outlets are reporting that the Trump administration has ended the "medical deferred action" program, which will result in the removal of thousands of illegal aliens living in the country who are receiving life-saving medical treatment. However, the reports misrepresent the policy change and exaggerate the impacts.
First, there is no "medical deferred action" program. The phrase appears to be coined by the immigration groups to make a recent change in policy appear to be more extreme than it really is. Second, NumbersUSA would oppose any effort by any administration to remove illegal aliens who are actively receiving life-saving treatment in the United States. It does not appear, however, that that's what the Trump administration plans to do.
Deferred action is a tool to grant temporary and discretionary relief to otherwise deportable aliens on a case-by-case basis, most commonly in cases of humanitarian need. Illegal aliens who demonstrate "an economic necessity for employment" can receive work authorization. Deferred action became more well-known after Pres. Obama announced DACA, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
Until recently, USCIS considered applications for deferred action, however Pres. Trump shifted the responsibility to ICE earlier this month. After all, deferred action is a tool used by law enforcement and ICE is a law enforcement agency. Upon the change, USCIS began sending denial letters to illegal aliens who had applied to the Agency for deferred action.
The Associated Press was tipped off after several of the deferred action denial letters had been sent to illegal aliens receiving life-saving medical treatment. Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) told the AP, "Donald Trump is literally deporting kids with cancer."
But the form letter received by the families tells a different story. (You can read the full letter here.)
The letter states (emphasis added):
The evidence of record shows that, when you submitted your request [for deferred action], 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.
The letter does not indicate that the illegal alien will be removed. It simply states that the alien may have to appear before an immigration judge, and that's only if ICE decides to pursue the alien. Not only could ICE defer action if the alien is receiving life-saving treatment, but the immigration judge could also delay removal proceedings.
So despite what's been reported by a number of media outlets, the Trump administration has not implemented a new policy to remove illegal aliens who are receiving medical treatment. Instead, the administration has simply shifted the responsibility of which agency decides who is eligible for receiving deferred action, including those who are receiving life-saving medical treatment.
CHRIS CHMIELENSKI is the Deputy Director for NumbersUSA
Updated: Wed, Sep 11th 2019 @ 2:20pm EDT