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DHS Backs Off Plan to Halt Medical Deportation Relief

Immigrant families at a bus depot in McAllen, Texas, July 28, 2018. (Loren Elliott/Reuters)

The Trump administration on Thursday formally canceled plans to deport migrants with serious medical conditions, including critically ill children, which would have ended the deferred action program for such individuals.

Acting Homeland Security Department Secretary Kevin McAleenan reversed the August decision of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to shutter than program for all but military members and their families.

“At the direction of Acting Secretary McAleenan, USCIS 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,” a statement from USCIS read.

The agency had urged Homeland Security to retire the deferred action program completely, without exception for the military.

“USCIS strongly believes that the exercise of deferred action is subject to abuse,” a USCIS memo said.

About 400 individuals with serious medical conditions had been told they had 33 days to leave the country.

The move caught flack from immigration advocates and Democrats, who called a House Oversight subcommittee hearing on the decision.

“It appears that the Trump Administration is reversing its inhumane and disastrous decision to deport critically ill children and their families who are receiving life-saving medical treatment in the United States,” committee chairman Elijah Cummings wrote in a statement.

“It should not take an emergency hearing by Congress — and threats for more — to force the Trump administration to do the right thing,” Cummings said. “Our committee will continue to seek answers about who was responsible for this cruel policy in the first place.”

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