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  • Washington Highlights

    Immigration and Health Organizations Urge USCIS to Restore Medical Deferred Action

    Matthew Shick, Sr. Director, Gov't Relations & Regulatory Affairs

    The AAMC Sept. 4 joined over 150 organizations in a letter calling for the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to reverse in full its policy shift under which the agency ended its acceptance and adjudication of nonmilitary deferred action requests at field offices, including medical deferment.

    USCIS Aug. 7 announced they are no longer adjudicating requests for nonmilitary "deferred action," a form of temporary relief from deportation for immigrants facing special and often life-threatening circumstances. Reportedly, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) will assume the exclusive responsibility for deferred action requests, but no formal process to request assistance from ICE has been released.

    The letter notes that “this change forces sick children and other vulnerable individuals to make an impossible choice—either: (1) remain in the shadows and opt not to seek life-saving relief; or (2) risk deportation—the very outcome they need relief from—by voluntarily placing themselves in deportation proceedings and seeking the deferred action determination of an enforcement agency.”

    USCIS Sept. 3 announced they would reopen nonmilitary deferred action cases that were pending on Aug. 7, 2019, and would send letters reopening these cases. The community letter highlights, “While reopening of denied requests pending as of that date is necessary corrective action, it is wholly insufficient to prevent needless deportations and deaths” caused by this new policy.