The Trump administration is ending a policy that allows immigrants to avoid deportation if they are receiving life-saving medical treatment in the U.S.
The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the agency within the Department of Homeland Security that specializes in the country’s immigration system, revealed that it is no longer allowing essential medical treatment in the U.S. to be a basis to prevent deportation.
The “medical deferment action” program has allowed immigrants to remain in the country for two-year periods if they can prove they are receiving essential medical treatment not necessarily available in their home countries. The program does not provide lawful immigration status to an alien, does not “excuse” periods of unlawful presence in the U.S., and can be terminated by USCIS at any time.
In a statement to the Daily Caller News Foundation, a USCIS spokesperson made clear that this policy won’t change other deferment programs, such as DACA, and does not apply to military personnel.
“USCIS field offices will no longer consider non-military requests for deferred action, to instead focus agency resources on faithfully administering our nation’s lawful immigration system. This redirection of agency resources does not affect DACA or other deferred action requests processed at USCIS service centers under other policies, regulations, or court orders,” an agency spokesperson said in a Tuesday statement.
“I’d like to underscore that this does not mean the end of deferred action,” the spokesperson continued, adding that the program will instead be deferred to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The decision was made to transfer most “non-DACA, non-military deferred action determinations” to ICE because it’s the agency responsible for removing aliens from the country.
About 1,000 deferred action requests are made annually, according to USCIS, and the majority of which have not been approved. The official policy change became effective on August 7. Any pending requests, the agency noted, will be denied and applicants will be mailed notices.
“As with any request for deferred action, ICE reviews each case on its own merits and exercises appropriate discretion after reviewing all the facts involved,” an ICE spokesman said to the DCNF on Tuesday.
News of the program change first began when families living in the Boston-area were mailed orders to leave the U.S. within 33 days or else be subjected to deportation, according to the Associated Press, which reviewed the letters. (RELATED: Democratic States Sue To Block Trump From Indefinitely Holding Migrants)
Changes to the medical deferment action program is the latest in the Trump administration’s effort to rollback services to non-citizens living in the U.S. USCIS acting Director Ken Cuccinelii announced earlier in August that his agency would take into account an alien’s past use of government benefits when determining whether to grant the individual permanent status in the U.S.
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