Trump’s America means death for sick kids

The administration is now shuttering a program allowing immigrants to access life-saving medical treatment

Among President Trump’s many cruel actions over the past three years is his recent move to strip protections from undocumented immigrants who live here under a special exemption for those in treatment for life-threatening medical conditions.

Last week, the administration unceremoniously decided to end the so-called “medical deferred action” policy that allows seriously ill foreigners—and their families—to stay in the United States for life-saving medical care. The issue came to light when enrollees who’d applied for extensions—as is common practice under the program—were summarily denied and ordered to leave the country within 33 days.

For people whose country of origin lacks adequate medical expertise and care—including cancer-stricken children from impoverished South American countries—the decision in many cases would translate to a death sentence. Take, for example, the case of Jonathan Sanchez, a 16-year-old Honduran with cystic fibrosis, a hereditary disease that damages respiratory and digestive systems and requires aggressive treatment, including anti-inflammatory drugs.

Sanchez’s sister died from the disease—having never been properly diagnosed or treated in Honduras—so his parents brought him to Massachussetts, where the experts at Boston Children’s Hospital and access to cutting-edge treatment and technology are keeping him alive.

Critics in Washington and around the nation—including over 120 federal lawmakers who rebuked the administration in a letter to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security—have responded to the savage turn of events with fierce opposition. A hearing of the Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties on the shuttering of the program is scheduled for Friday (Sept. 6).

Under the intense backlash, the administration appears to be backing off on the deportations in some cases. That is, those already in the States who’d applied for an extension may get a reprieve.

Don’t be quick to give the White House any credit for being compassionate, however. Remember, this is the same administration that cages refugee children after separating them from their parents. Moreover, the medical deferred action program is still eliminated. Ultimately, that means people—yes, children—won’t get the care they need and will die as a result.