ANCOR is sharing this statement by the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) because of the disability component of deferred actions. While ANCOR did not join this statement, we wanted to share it to highlight the disability concerns highlighted by a number of disability organizations.
As written by AAPD:
“AAPD, with over 150 organizations, calls upon USCIS [United States Customs and Immigration Services] to immediately and fully restore deferred action adjudications. Their elimination of non-military Deferred Action places vulnerable individuals at risk of deportation and places lives in jeopardy.”
As written in the letter:
“The undersigned organizations write to urge USCIS to reverse in full its August 7, 2019 policy shift under which the agency ended its acceptance and adjudication of non-military deferred action requests at field offices. This shift needlessly places severely ill children, as well as other vulnerable individuals throughout the nation, at risk of deportation and even death. The agency’s commitment to re-opening denied deferred action requests that were pending as of August 7, 2019 marks an initial corrective step, but that action does not go nearly far enough to protect lives that remain at risk due to the underlying change in policy.
This change forces sick children and other vulnerable individuals to make an impossible choice— either: (1) remain in the shadows and opt not to seek life-saving relief; or (2) risk deportation—the very outcome they need relief from—by voluntarily placing themselves in deportation proceedings and seeking the deferred action determination of an enforcement agency. Either option could amount to a death sentence. What is more, the end of affirmative deferred action ensures that many children and families may accrue periods of “unlawful presence” that could trigger long-terms bans preventing their return to the United States.
It bears emphasis that the varying rationales offered for this change in policy are unfounded. USCIS initially stated that it will “instead focus agency resources on faithfully administering our nation’s lawful immigration system”—yet deferred action requests are fully lawful. USCIS subsequently stated that “it is not appropriate for the agency to adjudicate requests for suspended enforcement not clearly assigned to USCIS in law or policy”—yet a 2003 DHS delegation of authority expressly assigns USCIS authority to grant deferred action, and indeed, for many years USCIS has adjudicated these requests. More recently, USCIS asserted that “[a]s USCIS’ deferred action caseload is reduced, the career employees who decide such cases will be more available to address other types of legal immigration applications on a more efficient basis.” The undersigned organizations reject any suggestion that children with severe medical conditions such as cancer, epilepsy, and cystic fibrosis, or other individuals whose survival could hinge on deferred action grants, are undeserving of USCIS’s resources.”