Sick Immigrants Now Facing Potential Deportation

Anvi Kasargod, Sports Editor/Reporter

Jonathan Sanchez, 16, from Honduras suffers from cystic fibrosisa life-threatening disorder that damages the lungs and digestive systemand requires a vibrating vest, nebulizer and special medication to keep him alive.

According to NBC News and NPR, Jonathan’s family traveled to the U.S. legally in 2016 and applied for “medical deferred action,” which is a program that allows immigrants to receive life-saving treatment for up to two years. However, a recent denial notice issued by the Trump administration stated that they had 33 days to leave the U.S. or face deportation. 

On Aug. 7, immigrant families that were granted permission to stay in the U.S. in order to receive life-saving medical care received letters from the Trump administration. The letters notified them that their permission to stay in the US had been rescinded. They were provided with little information regarding deportation processes. 

The administration’s new policy has caused the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to change the medical deferment program and deprive hundreds of immigrant children of any options for future medical treatment. 

The direct motives for these denial notices are unclear, but they have been clubbed together with Trump’s other plans to make it more difficult for legal immigrants to use social services. 

Unlike other immigration policies that the Trump administration has taken immense pride in, this particular action went publicly unannounced. Rather than openly broadcasting the policy, families abruptly received the letters without context or additional information. 

If forced to return to Honduras, Jonathan will not be able to receive the level of medical care that he is currently receiving in the U.S., which will undeniably have detrimental effects on his health condition.  

Jonathan’s mother, Mariela Sanchez, is aware of what could  happen to her son if he does not receive care in the U.S. since she previously lost her daughter to the same disease after doctors in Honduras failed to diagnose it. 

Given the current situation of Jonathan’s family as well as that of other immigrant families that endure similar medical circumstanceswhere their home countries do not possess the advanced level of medical care needed to treat rare diseasesthe Trump administration’s new policy inherently forces a death sentence on the hundreds of children receiving life-saving care in the U.S.  

Another such case is that of 24-year-old Maria Isabel Bueso. Maria came to the U.S. from Guatemala when she was seven  years old in order to take part in a clinical trial for the treatment of her rare, disfiguring genetic disease. Like Jonathan and countless others, Maria and her family were residing in the U.S. as part of the now rolled-back “deferred action” program.

Maria has been receiving weekly infusions of the approved drug, Naglazyme, for 16 years, and it has allowed her to build a productive life, despite her condition. However, neither the drug nor the medical care that she requires is available in Guatemala. 

Without it, she is expected to experience labored breathing and be more susceptible to cardiac arrest as well as various infections. 

Currently, the ACLU of Massachusetts and other civil rights groups are suing to restore deferred action and protect people who are receiving care, but the likelihood of their success is difficult to predict.  

These inevitable dangers that immigrant children will be forced to face are absolutely nauseating and further reinforce their families’ fear that the new immigration policy is nothing but a death sentence.