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USCIS Tells Kids with Cancer They Have 33 Days to Leave the US (Updated)

3 min read

 TRMS last night:

Trump admin targeting families of ailing children for deportation

Anthony Marino, immigration legal services director of the Irish International Immigrant Center, talks with Rachel Maddow about the frantic legal effort to protect families being kicked out of the United States despite being dependent on life-saving medical treatments in the U.S. that may not exist in their home countries.

and she led with it tonight, saying that the national media hasn’t picked it up yet either.

There are a small number of non-immigrant families who came legally, either to get medical treatment for seriously ill children (cancer, cystic fibrosis,epilipsy) that they couldn't get at home, or whose kids fell ill while visiting here. These families have been allowed to stay here using medical deferred action determinations, which means that they can stay here legally as long as the child (or other close relative) needs life-saving treatment in the United States. This option dates back to at least the 1970s, though the Obama administration may have mandated a more liberal application.

For whatever reason, the Trump administration has, with no announcement and no notice, started sending out letters to these families and telling them that they will no longer be allowed to stay on medical deferred action, and that they must leave — taking the kids with them — within 33 days of the date of the letter. (Some of the letters only  arrived halfway through this ‘grace’ period.)

It also seems the administration thought they could get away with this with nobody noticing, because they had no plan to explain it and no idea what to do or say (even how to lie about it) if they got caught. And they did. Boston Children’s Hospital is one of the best in the world for treating difficult cases, and they have a number of these children. When the parents started receiving these letters, they went to the Boston Globe and radio station WBUR, among other media outlets. Families in Florida are the same situation, according to today’s Miami Herald (though the Herald is calling them ‘undocumented immigrants’ which I think is the wrong term).

Vanity Fair is also on the story:

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.

WBUR posted a copy of the letter. They also have this quote from Sen. Markey (D-MA):

“It is unconscionable. It is wrong. And we are here to say that we will fight,” Markey said. “We have gathered many times in the last two and a half years since Donald Trump was inaugurated — many times, these same groups have come together. We have now reached the bottom though — the most inhumane of all of Donald Trump's policies are the ones we are here to speak about today.”

I’m have to run right now, but I will check later to see what Warren will have to say (and I am SURE she will!) Sen. Merkley (D-OR) was in town today, and my wife went to see him; she asked him about this but he hadn’t heard anything. You can be sure he’s looking into it.

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