Federal agency to resume processing some deferred-action requests for migrants

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U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) says it will resume processing some deferred-action requests for migrants after backlash over its decision last month to not defer deportations for migrants and their family members who receive life-saving medical treatment.

“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 USCIS spokesperson told The Hill on Thursday.

The official noted that most deferred-action requests are related to either family support or medical issues. The change means USCIS will revert to processes in place up until early August that allow for non-military deferred removal requests to be considered.{mosads}

The agency sparked backlash last month when it signaled it would force migrants who are facing serious medical issues to return to their home countries.

A spokesperson for USCIS had told The Hill late last month that the process allowing those migrants and their family members to avoid deportation would not end, but would be handled through U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

The spokesperson had said at the time that the change took effect in early August and provided exemptions for military families.

The initial move faced wide scrutiny, and the Trump administration previously said it was considering a reversal of its decision.

News of the reversal was first shared Thursday by members of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, citing a notice from the Department of Homeland Security.

“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,” Oversight Chairman Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) said in a statement.

“We will be taking additional steps to verify that these children and their families do not need to live in fear and uncertainty,” he added. 

USCIS had previously been receiving about 1,000 deferred action requests annually, mostly due to family or medical reasons. Most were not approved.

The move to eliminate the protection for migrants was first reported last month by The Associated Press, which obtained USCIS letters sent to applicants in the Boston area.

The AP noted that the correspondence made no mention of ICE taking over the program and ordered the immigrants to exit the U.S. in 33 days or face deportation.

Tags Department of Homeland Security DHS Elijah Cummings House Oversight and Reform Committee Immigration U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services USCIS

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