Empty hospital emergency room.
Stock photo by DreamPictures/Getty Images

Trump admin reverses course on ‘deferred action’ plan for sick kids

The Rachel Maddow Show, 8/29/19, 9:53 PM ET

Trump deportation order like a death sentence for sick immigrants

Dr. Paul Harmatz of UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital, talks with Rachel Maddow about the case of Isabel Bueso, who helped develop the treatment for her rare disease but now faces a life-threatening situation if the Trump administration successfully
It was just a week ago when the Boston Globe published an article that was almost hard to believe. “Severely ill immigrants, including children with cancer, cystic fibrosis, and other grave conditions, are facing deportation under a change in Trump administration policy that immigration advocates are calling cruel and inhumane,” the newspaper reported.

For all of Donald Trump’s talk about targeting “bad hombres” to keep Americans safe, in this case, his administration was targeting children receiving treatment for life-threatening ailments who’d been granted “medical deferred action.” By threatening the kids and their families with deportation, the administration’s U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services was effectively delivering death sentences.

The policy was almost cartoonish in its malevolence. Even critics of the Republican White House, who’ve come to expect the worst from Trump and his team, were taken aback by the reports. These families were told they had 33 days to leave the country.

Yesterday, as the New York Times reported, the administration appeared to back off.

The Trump administration on Monday announced that it would reconsider its decision to force immigrants facing life-threatening health crises to return to their home countries, an abrupt move last month that generated public outrage and was roundly condemned by the medical establishment. […]

On Monday, the agency said in a statement that while limiting the program was “appropriate,” officials would “complete the caseload that was pending on August 7.”

This is reassuring, but I have some follow-up questions.

1. Exactly who was it who thought deporting sick children would be a good idea? What problem was the administration trying to solve? Who did officials think would benefit from such a policy?

2. Who will lose their jobs in the Trump administration for making this threat?

3. Under the old policy, these families have to renew their deferred status every two years, and it was last month that the administration said it would no longer consider additional renewals. I’m glad those families who are in the United States under “medical deferred action” won’t be forced out, but the administration hasn’t given any details about the future of the program. Going forward, will other sick kids be welcomed to American facilities for treatment?