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Trump Administration Targets Kids With Chronic Illnesses for Deportation

The Trump administration ended its deferred medical action program for visa holders who have kids who are chronically ill, ensuring a death sentence for many children.

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The Trump administration delivered several cruel whammies to kids this week including taking citizenship away from military kids born on bases outside of the country, and forcing migrants to apply for asylum in their own countries. (This one would essentially end asylum if it passed the Supreme Court). 

But the biggest blow to kids that came to light was actually put in place on August 7, with no notice to the public. The Trump administration eliminated “medical deferred action,” a program that allows migrants to stay in the United States for two years past the terms of their original visas so that they or their children can receive medical treatment they can not get in their home countries. 

This new rule change is likely part of an effort by the administration to stop migrant children (legal or otherwise) in the United States from becoming a “public charge” and making sure they can “stand on their own two feet.” 

The irony here is that many of these kids — suffering from cancer, HIV, cerebral palsy, and other conditions — cannot, in fact, stand on their own two feet and might never have the opportunity to do so. This move is nothing short of a death sentence for parents who have no other medical options for their kids than to get permission to overstay their visa from the government while they get treatments.

The deferred medical action program is an entirely “on the books” program for people who came to the country through their visas and allows them to get their kids government-funded health care while they live and work legally in the United States. This policy has been in use for decades, and the Trump administration decided to trash it overnight. No reason was given directly from the Trump administration for the move.

While it’s not known how many migrants in the country benefit from the medical deferred action program, at least 20 families in the city of Boston alone will be deported within 33 days if a court doesn’t block this move. Those children have cancer, HIV, cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, epilepsy, and other conditions, according to what Anthony Marino, a head of immigration legal services at the Irish International Immigrant Center based in Boston, told Time Magazine. The effects of these deportations have already been felt: In early August, reports revealed that a man named Jimmy Aldaoud, who was born in Greece but had Iraqi parents, was deported to Iraq. Aldaoud needed insulin to survive, and when he was deported to Iraq in June of this year, he died shortly after because he was unable to obtain it in the country that he had never lived in, never been to, and did not speak the language of. 

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The DHS also reports that about 1,000 people a year apply for deferred medical action programs to help keep their kids alive. While it’s not exactly clear how many people will be affected by this, estimates put it in the thousands, and kids (and adults) with chronic illnesses like cystic fibrosis will likely die if they return to their home countries.