Trump administration cancels abrupt end of program for immigrants with life-threatening illnesses

Decision leaves the future of the program very much in doubt
Robert Calandra

Maria Isabel Bueso, 24, woke up Monday to the good news that she and other immigrants facing life-threatening health issues would not be forced to leave the United States. At least for now.

In early August, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services announced, without public notice, that it was ending the “deferred action” program that allows immigrants to stay in the country while they or a relative were undergoing lifesaving medical treatment.

The announcement was met with an immediate backlash on social media and from Democratic lawmakers. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called on the administration to reverse its decision.

According to the New York Times, the agency released a statement yesterday that it was reconsidering the August notice and effectively set it aside—for the time being. The newspaper reported that the statement did not say whether the program for immigrants with life-threatening illnesses would continue after the current applications are processed.

Bueso became the face of the program after she was featured in a Times story. Bueso, originally from Guatemala, came to this country when she was seven. She  participated in several medical studies over the years that eventually led to a drug trial and treatment for her rare disease, Mucopolysaccharidosis VI, or MPS-6, which results in dwarfism, clouded vision, and spinal cord compression, among other abnormalities.

Every week, Bueso receives infusions of the replacement enzyme that threats her disease, according to the newspaper. The infusions are not available in Guatemala, and her doctors say that without them Bueso faces a much shorter lifespan.