Trump administration ends Medical Deferred Action, to deport sick children to their deaths (Updated)

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As Adam Serwer said, The Cruelty Is the Point.

The Trump administration has reached new depths of depravity. There’s a Russian expression for this: “We thought we had hit rock bottom, then someone knocked from down below.”

Bess Levin at Vanity Fair writes, THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION IS NOW DEPORTING KIDS WITH CANCER:

When you’ve already separated families, thrown children in cages, and held them in conditions that “could be compared to torture facilities,” it’s a bit of a challenge to come up with your next act. Evil takes creativity, and once you’ve forced migrant kids to go weeks without a shower or change of clothes and fed them expired food, it’s tough to continue nailing those Hitler comparisons. Somehow, though, the Trump administration always rises to the occasion:

Immigrant advocates in Boston say federal authorities are unfairly ordering foreign-born children granted special immigration status for medical treatment to return to their countries. The Irish International Immigrant Center says it’s aware of at least five local families who have received notices this month to leave the U.S. within 33 days. The families have “medical deferred action,” which enables them to receive government-funded health care and work legally while their children receive medical treatment…. Advocates say similar notices have been recently issued in California, North Carolina, and other states.

The new policy is reportedly a major departure from long-standing legal practice; for decades, the federal government has used it to exercise discretion where a little humanity is warranted, like when a child is critically ill and will die if ordered to leave the country. Unfortunately for such children, humanity is not part of the Trump administration’s agenda. (You just know that evil Stephen Miller is behind this cruel policy).

Per the Boston Globe:

Consider the case of Marie and her 13-year-old son. They were visiting Boston in 2013 when the boy fell ill. He was diagnosed with sickle cell anemia, a genetic condition for which he’s been treated at Boston Medical Center. She filed for medical deferred action almost immediately and they were approved in 2017. The status, valid for two years, meant she could get a work permit and he would be granted MassHealth and afford access to life-saving care. She is required to bring him into BMC for monitoring every two months; otherwise acute problems might arise that can result in brain damage or kidney failure, she said. Last week, Marie got a denial letter from US Citizenship and Immigration Services after filing for a renewal. They were instructed to leave within 33 days or else risk deportation.

“I can’t go back to Haiti,” Marie said in an interview on Monday organized by local immigration advocates. “I won’t find this medical care for him there.” According to Mahsa Khanbabai, chair of the New England chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, the exact number of immigrants potentially affected by the change is unclear, but estimated to be in the thousands, including children with cystic fibrosis, leukemia, and muscular dystrophy.

“This is a new low,” Senator Ed Markey told the Associated Press of the news. “Donald Trump is literally deporting kids with cancer.”

Time Magazine (AP report), Trump Administration Ends Protection That Lets Migrants Avoid Deportation While Receiving Medical Care:

The Trump administration has eliminated a protection that lets immigrants remain in the country and avoid deportation while they or their relatives receive life-saving medical treatments or endure other hardships, immigration officials said in letters issued to families this month.

Critics denounced the decision as a cruel change that could force desperate migrants to accept lesser treatment in their poverty-stricken homelands.

Or send them to their certain deaths.

Mariela Sanchez, a native of Honduras who recently applied for the special exemption, said a denial would amount to a death sentence for her 16-year-old son, Jonathan, who suffers from cystic fibrosis. They are among many families who settled in Boston to seek care at some of the nation’s top hospitals.

Sanchez, who arrived in the U.S. with her family in 2016, said she lost a daughter to the same disease years ago after doctors in her home country failed to diagnose it.

The disease, which is hereditary, affects the lungs and digestive system and has no cure.

“He would be dead,” if the family had remained in Honduras, she said of her son. “I have panic attacks over this every day.”

In Boston alone, the decision could affect about 20 families with children fighting cancer, HIV, cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, epilepsy and other serious conditions, said Anthony Marino, head of immigration legal services at the Irish International Immigrant Center, which represents the families.

Advocates say similar letters from Citizenship and Immigration Services have been issued to immigrants in California, North Carolina and elsewhere.

“Can anyone imagine the government ordering you to disconnect your child from life-saving care — to pull them from a hospital bed — knowing that it will cost them their lives?” Marino said.

“This is a new low,” Democratic Sen. Ed Markey said. “Donald Trump is literally deporting kids with cancer.”

A Citizenship and Immigration Services spokeswoman said the policy change was effective Aug. 7.

It affects all pending requests, including from those seeking a renewal of the two-year authorization and those applying for the first time. The only exception is for military members and their families.

The special status is similar to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program that then-President Barack Obama created in 2012 to shield immigrants brought to the country as children from deportation — another policy the administration has been trying to dismantle.

The agency estimates it receives about 1,000 deferred action requests per year that are related neither to the military nor to DACA. Most of them cite medical or financial hardships, the agency said.

Going forward, applicants will be able to seek deportation deferrals from a different agency, Immigration Customs and Enforcement, according to the spokeswoman.

Letters sent to Boston-area families last week and reviewed by The Associated Press, however, do not mention that option. They simply order applicants to leave the country within 33 days or face deportation, which can hurt future visa or immigration requests.

The elimination of the special status for medical care is one of several aggressive steps the Trump administration has taken in recent weeks to crack down on immigrants.

The administration also wants to deny green cards to many immigrants who use Medicaid, food stamps, housing vouchers or other public assistance, and to end a long-running agreement limiting how long migrant children can be kept in detention. President Donald Trump floated the idea of ending the right to citizenship for babies born to foreigners on American soil, and the administration wants to effectively ban asylum along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Without the discretionary deferrals, immigrant families facing serious health issues have few other options for relief, medical experts in Boston argued Monday.

The deferrals, they added, do not provide families a pathway to citizenship, though they can qualify for government-funded health benefits and receive legal permission to work while their children receive medical treatment.

“They’re not coming for a free ride. They’re coming to save their children,” said Joe Chabot, a director at the Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center. “It’s bewildering.”

The Rachel Maddow Show did a segment on this story on Tuesday night’s program.

UPDATE: The Rachel Maddow Show did a follow-up segment on this story on Wednesday night’s program.




3 COMMENTS

  1. Its not just cruelty. Its also a desire to kick a dog while its down, shoot a fish in a barrel, whatever can be done to hype up a fragile ego….which is apparently all right with and completely legitimate to his followers. To have this underbelly so exposed and celebrated is enough to make you wonder where did all of this compassion in the past come from, and what the hell has happened to that gene?

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