The United States Congress is reconsidering a new, sudden USCIS (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services) policy to refuse hospitality to legal residents needing medical treatment that is only available to them in the United States, even if their condition is life-threatening, The New York Times reports.
The policy isn’t only being criticized for demanding residents leave the country regardless of the severity of their medical condition. It’s also under scrutiny for going unannounced to the public.
Migrants legally living in the United States while undergoing life-saving medical treatment were given as little as a few weeks notice to leave the country via letters arriving in their mailboxes. The new measure affects thousands of current legal residents, as well as new visa applicants.
“As these actions violate human rights (and may even be in violation of international law), they definitely go against the stated values of the country,” said UMKC Director of the Latinx and Latin American Studies Program Clara E. Irazábal-Zurita.
“[These values] are expressed in Emma Lazarus’s 1883 poem, ‘Give me your tired, give me your poor, …’” she said, noting that USCIS Acting Director Kenneth T. Cuccinelli II amended the same poem during his interview on NPR’s Morning Edition last month.
The New York Times reported Cuccinelli as absent for emergency congressional hearings of legal residents’ medical cases on Wednesday. The witnesses, some of whom are now within weeks of being deported despite life-threatening conditions, expressed distress about the policy.
Cuccinelli, whose most recent post on behalf of USCIS is a photograph of a 1941 headline reading, “Roosevelt Dedicates Third Term to Fight Against Alien Disruption” hasn’t discussed the topic on his USCIS Twitter account, either.
The USCIS website is one of the main sources of information offered by the U.S. government to current and future residents of the United States, yet record of this new action cannot be found on the USCIS website’s policy memos or news releases.
Information about the policy’s purpose or rationale is not published on other relevant federal websites either and remains unnamed.
The lack of transparency about the new measure makes it difficult for residents without means to leave quickly to make well-informed plans. They also don’t have information regarding considerations they might be afforded should their expedited departure be imminently life-threatening.
I.C.E., the organization responsible for arresting and deporting non-citizens from the United States, is now the new point of contact for deferred action appeals and applications.