a rarity
September 20, 2019

Following a public outcry, the Trump administration reversed policy on Thursday and restored the medical deferred action program, which protects immigrants with life-threatening medical conditions from deportation as they receive treatment.

Last month, applicants received letters from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services saying that requests were no longer being accepted, and the sick migrants had to leave the United States within 33 days. Recipients who spoke to the media, like 16-year-old Jonathan Sanchez, said that if they went back to their original countries, they would die; Sanchez has cystic fibrosis, and said doctors in Honduras are not equipped to treat him.

When U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services stopped the program on Aug. 7, the agency did so without alerting Congress or the public. Hearings were held on Capitol Hill, with immigrants sharing their stories about how the program helped them, and USCIS said it would reopen cases that were pending as of Aug. 7. In a letter to the House Oversight Committee sent Thursday, acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan said he had directed USCIS to start considering all applications again.

"It should not take an emergency hearing by Congress — and threats for more — to force the Trump administration to do the right thing," House Oversight Committee Chair Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) said in a statement. "Because of the secrecy and obstruction surrounding this policy, we will be taking additional steps to verify that these children and their families do not need to live in fear and uncertainty." Catherine Garcia

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