U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will no longer consider applications for a program that allows migrants who are receiving life-saving medical treatment defer deportation, the Associated Press and WBUR report. In letters sent recently in Boston, California, North Carolina, and other states, USCIS said it would no longer consider “medical deferred action” program applications. A USCIS spokeswoman said the policy change took effect on Aug. 7 and affects all pending requests, including renewals and first-time applications. The only exceptions to the policy change are applications from military members and their families. An immigration advocate told the AP the move could affect about 20 families in Boston, among them kids who have cancer, muscular dystrophy, epilepsy, cerebral palsy, and other conditions.
The USCIS spokeswoman said Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) would now be making deportation deferral decisions instead of USCIS. However, letters sent to migrants reportedly did not inform them about the agency shift, instead ordering them to leave the country within 33 days or face deportation. USCIS said it received about 1,000 deferred action requests every year, most of them citing medical situations or “financial hardships.”