Immigration Agency Will Re-allow Requests For Medical Deferments to Avoid Deportation

Washington (CNN) The Department of Homeland Security will again allow undocumented immigrants with serious medical conditions to apply to remain in the United States, reversing a controversial move from this summer that ended the practice and led to a public outcry.

“At the direction of Acting Secretary McAleenan, USCIS (US Citizenship and Immigration Services) is resuming its consideration of non-military deferred action requests on a discretionary, case-by-case basis, except as otherwise required by an applicable statute, regulation, or court order,” an agency spokesperson said Thursday.

An email notification was also sent to members of Congress.

The department’s decision last month to no longer consider non-military requests for deferred action — temporary relief from deportation — drew wide condemnation from advocacy groups, lawyers and lawmakers, who argued that the reversal would harm those who benefit from the relief. It also prompted a lawsuit from civil rights groups.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts, which was among the groups that brought the suit, called Thursday’s announcement “an encouraging development.”

“This is an encouraging development for the people and families whose lives were impacted by the Trump administration’s abrupt termination of medical deferred action,” said legal director Matt Segal. “We are hopeful that the government will work to restore this vital humanitarian program and look forward to hearing from the government directly in connection with our lawsuit on the (Irish International Immigrant Center’s) behalf.”

In August, Citizenship and Immigration Services sent letters to families who had requested relief from deportation, saying the agency’s field offices “no longer consider requests for deferred action,” except for certain military exceptions.

Instead, the agency said it would defer to Immigration and Customs Enforcement to determine whether nonmilitary issues “warrant deferred action,” according to a spokesperson. But the two agencies’ procedures are not identical.

By Priscilla Alvarez for CNN
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