Civil rights groups are suing the Trump administration over its decision to stop allowing some migrants to stay in the U.S. while receiving care for serious medical illnesses.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Massachusetts and the group Lawyers for Civil Rights filed a lawsuit Thursday over the Trump administration’s Aug. 7 decision to end the decades-long deferred action program that operated under U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
The lawsuit argues that the termination of the program violates the Administrative Procedure Act and the Equal Protection guarantee of the Constitution. The ACLU called the administration’s move “unconscionable and illegal.”
A USCIS spokesperson told The Hill the department does not comment on pending litigation. A spokesperson had previously said the agency would allow cases to be handled by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, adding there would be exceptions for military families.
“The Trump administration is hellbent on causing as much suffering as possible for immigrant families,” Carol Rose, executive director of the ACLU of Massachusetts, argued in a statement. “This attack on children and their families is inhumane and unlawful. We will not stand for it: The ACLU and our partners are in this fight until all immigrants are treated with compassion, humanity, and justice.”
Applicants to the program in the Boston area reportedly received a letter from USCIS last week telling them they have 33 days to leave the country or face deportation.
The ACLU filed its lawsuit on behalf of the Irish International Immigration Center, which said it is serving 19 affected people and families who have applied or were applying for deferred action based on serious medical needs.
Jonathan Sanchez, a 16-year-old battling Cystic Fibrosis, is one patient affected by the Trump administration’s policy shift. Sanchez’s parents told CBS Boston they migrated from Honduras in 2016 on tourist visas and recently applied to stay in the U.S. under the medical deferred action program for their son’s treatment.
“From my perspective it’s making legal homicide,” Jonathan Sanchez told CBS Boston when discussing the policy shift. “Because in Central America there’s no treatment, no medicine, no doctors, no specialists, no nothing.”
He receives his treatment three times a day. Without it, he said he suffers from couching, throws up and has a hard time breathing and has chest pain.
“They’re just murdering us, they’re killing us. The deportation in other words means death,” he said.
In addition to the lawsuit, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey (D) and New York Attorney General Letitia James (D) led a letter sent by 18 states and the District of Columbia to acting USCIS Director Ken Cuccinelli this week demanding answers over the policy shift.