Next they came for the sick.
The Trump administration’s war on immigrants–particularly those with brown skin–took another twisted turn this week when U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) sent letters to scores of immigrants, stating it will no longer consider deportation deferrals for those suffering from serious medical conditions like cancer and HIV.
That decision will now rest with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE); i.e., Trump’s deportation force.
The “medical deferred action” program allows immigrants–many of whom entered the United States via visas–to remain in the country for two additional years to receive medical treatment so long as they are able to prove extreme medical exigencies.
Immigrant families have been given until mid-September to leave the country.
Massachusetts Sen. Markey called the policy change one of “the most inhumane of Donald Trump’s policies,” asserting that for many, these deportations would be “the equivalent of a death sentence.”
“We are here to raise our voices about this inhumane policy which Donald Trump has propounded in the name of the American people. It is unconscionable, it is wrong, and we are here to say that we will fight. We have gathered many times in the last 2 1/2 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.”
The Irish International Immigrant Center (IIIC) represents families of children ill enough to have been allowed to stay in the country for medical treatment.
IIIC Executive Director, Ronnie Millar, commented:
“Just when you think the administration can’t sink any lower, it finds a new way to torture immigrant children and families. These families are all here receiving treatment that is unavailable in their home countries, and our government has issued them a death sentence.”
IIIC Director of Immigration Legal Services, Anthony Marino, said:
“The denials say specifically that the immigration service is just no longer considering deferring action at all in these cases, which would be a first in decades. The government ordered the children and their families to leave and threatened deportation against any who didn’t. Can anyone imagine as a parent the government ordering you to disconnect your child from life-saving care, pull them from a hospital bed, and take them away, knowing it will cost their lives?”
Marino explained many of IIIC’s clients are families whose children are suffering from cancer, cystic fibrosis, HIV, cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, and epilepsy.
Urging the administration to reconsider, Marino added:
“Deferred has always been a mechanism for families to avoid the horrific choice of abandoning a child’s life-saving treatment or cowering over a suffering child in the shadows. We urge officials in the Department of Homeland Security and the administration to find their humanity again and reverse this decision.”
Joe Chabot, director at the Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center, explained:
“They’re not coming for a free ride. They’re coming to save their children. It’s bewildering.”
So much for Emma Lazurus’ stanza “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore, send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!” etched in stone on the Statue of Liberty.
This administration seeks to expel “undesirables,” which now includes the sick.
Earlier this month the Trump administration expanded its war on immigrants to target legal immigrants requiring public assistance.
This is not just an affront to immigrants–documented or otherwise; it’s an all-out assault on the poor and working-class who, due to sluggish wage growth, must depend on government assistance.
The majority of the country does not support the Trump administration’s inhumane immigration policies.
According to a Pew Research Center survey, 72 percent of Americans support a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.
How low will we go?
Can we sink any lower?
Image credit: Irish International Immigrant Center