USCIS Backtracks on Non-Military Deferred Action
Sep 24, 2019
Dallas, TX (Law Firm Newswire) September 24, 2019 – U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will reopen certain non-military medical deferred action cases that are pending as of August 7, 2019. The announcement came on September 2, 2019 after widespread public criticism in response to the agency’s sudden decision to end its adjudication of such requests. A host of organizations voiced strong opposition to the USCIS policy change and 127 members of Congress wrote a letter calling for the Trump administration to reinstate the program.
USCIS said that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) would take over the responsibility of processing non-military medical deferred action applications. The policy shift occurred without advance public notice, a move that at least one organization characterized as the agency’s increased disregard for transparency and accountability. The USCIS response was that its local field offices were notifying members of the public about the change on a case-by-case basis.
“It is hard to see the justification for the August, 2019, USCIS decision to stop adjudicating non-military deferred action applications which affect, as an example, sick kids with cancer, or other foreign nationals who are receiving lifesaving medical treatment in the U.S.,” commented Stewart Rabinowitz of the Dallas and Frisco law firm of Rabinowitz & Rabinowitz, P.C. “Why transfer deferred action cases to ICE who has stated its intent to get these persons ordered deported prior to considering a deferred action application? Thankfully, USCIS listened to the protests which erupted and reversed course.”
Apparently, the denial letters that USCIS sent out to applicants arising out of this sudden policy change did not contain any instructions to seek assistance from ICE nor any indication that it would be handling non-military deferred action cases going forward. The policy change also appeared to take ICE by surprise because, ICE stated, USCIS had not informed it of the change.
ICE stated that it had no system in place to process deferred action applications other than to accept deferred action requests after an applicant has undergone removal proceedings and has an order of removal.
Non-military deferred action provides temporary relief from deportation to immigrants who often face life-threatening circumstances. The process enables them to stay in the United States while they receive medical treatment.
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