E-P Faculty Call for Reinstatement of Deferred Action Policy for Immigrants with Critically Sick Children

  • Staff 

Sometimes during these late days of summer, we choose not to pay much attention to the news. School is starting, and everyone’s moving around Labor Day. But we need to pay attention.

The Boston Globe reported on August 27 that the Trump Administration had abruptly changed a longstanding policy of granting medical deferral requests to immigrant  families whose children were receiving treatment in U.S. hospitals to remain in the country legally. Instead, families received letters from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) that such requests from undocumented immigrants would no longer protect them from deportation while receiving treatment in the U.S. The letters warned that deportations would begin within 33 days; some families receiving letters found they were already partway through this period. You can read the letter families received on the WBUR website.

As grievous as this policy would be for adults dealing with life-threatening illnesses, it’s perhaps even more extreme in the case of children. As reported in Commonwealth Magazine, there are many children currently receiving treatment for cystic fibrosis, cancer and other serious illnesses at Boston Children’s Hospital and other medical facilities around the country whose families have been informed that they need to leave – and to leave treatments that are not available for their children in their home countries.

News organizations reported on August 30 that many elected officials, medical professionals and advocates for immigrant rights have called for oversight and commenced lawsuits to block this reversal of policy.

As faculty dedicated to promoting research about and practice with children, youth and families that focuses on health, inclusivity and equity, we are strongly committed to our support of families seeking critical care for their children. The health and well-being of children – allchildren – is key not only to our mission at Eliot-Pearson, but, we believe, for the health and well-being of our collective futures. We members of the EP faculty believe the “deferred action” policy should be revisited, and we join with the elected officials, medical providers and advocates who have called for review and oversight.

While the Trump Administration has partially reversed course and agreed to “complete the caseload that was pending” when they abruptly ended the policy in August, we believe the administration must find a permanent solution that is equitable and that enables children to get the care they desperately need, regardless of their country of origin.

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