Official refuses to tell lawmakers why Trump administration wants to end humanitarian immigration policy

Maria Isabel Bueso and Jonathan Sanchez.
(Image credit: AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

During a hearing Wednesday on an endangered medical deferred action immigration program, House lawmakers listened as a 16-year-old boy with cystic fibrosis shared his fear that he will die if he is deported back to Honduras, where doctors are unable to provide treatment for his condition. They also heard from Thomas Homan, the former acting director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, who said the "bigger problem" is the lack of enforcement along the southern border, which "affects many, many more lives, many more than this policy change."

Under medical deferred action, seriously ill immigrants can apply to stay in the United States without risk of deportation as they receive medical treatment not available in their home countries. Last month, applicants started receiving letters from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services telling them such requests were no longer being accepted, and they needed to leave the U.S. within 33 days. After a public uproar, the agency backtracked, saying earlier this month that all pending requests will be reopened.

The House Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties called the hearing in order to understand which member of the Trump administration wants to end the program and why, but the USCIS official called to testify, Daniel Renaud, wouldn't answer those questions, saying he couldn't due to a pending lawsuit in federal court.

Subscribe to The Week

Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.


Sign up for The Week's Free Newsletters

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign up

Republican lawmakers focused on asking Homan questions about the border, not medical deferred action, CommonWealth Magazine reports. The ringleader appeared to be Rep. Glenn Grothman (R-Wis.), who downplayed the testimony from Sanchez and other immigrants, including Maria Isabel Bueso, who has a rare genetic disease that cannot be treated in her home country of Guatemala. "These people are here to scare people," Grothman said.

Continue reading for free

We hope you're enjoying The Week's refreshingly open-minded journalism.

Subscribed to The Week? Register your account with the same email as your subscription.