Congressman Lacy Clay thundered across the hearing room this Wednesday at acting USCIS Director Ken Cuccinelli, who moments before had admitted that it was he who made the decision to deport children with cancer this past summer. Clay challenged Cuccinelli, asking him what the parents of two sick infants should do when they are told to pack up their stuff and leave the country as they lay in hospital. While Cuccinelli admitted to making a mistake in how he dealt with the families whose cases were pending, he still has not approved a single case nationwide since the reversal of the decision, and refuses to commit to keeping the policy if he is elevated to acting secretary of the Department of Homeland Security.
The elimination of the program has had real and devastating consequences for our clients, most of them children, all of them battling terrifying and painful illnesses. The continuing trauma of uncertainty that these families suffer is particularly cruel and unjust. While we remain hopeful that the government has in fact restored medical deferred action, we remain concerned that the decision to end it was made in the first place, and particularly that the decision was made in secret. The secrecy has continued with the government’s refusal to submit records even when required by law pursuant to a congressional subpoena. While a still-undisclosed August 7 decision may have been reversed, we have no way of knowing what other secret decisions may have undermined the integrity of the program. In light of the government’s claims to have restored deferred action, we have agreed to a temporary stay of our action in order to evaluate the veracity if it’s claims.