The government announced on Monday that it will process recently denied deferred action cases from seriously ill immigrants who are currently undergoing life saving medical care again. This is a reversal of a previous policy that has drawn widespread criticism from immigrant advocates. Deferred action is an immigration status which can be granted to illegal immigrants. This action does not grant legal status, but can delay deportation. The most well known type of deferred action is Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA. For more information about DACA and deferred action, please click here.

Without notifying the public, the policy to stop allowing ill immigrants to stay in the country went into effect on August 7. The policy caused widespread criticism when seriously ill applicants received denials for deferrals and were placed into deportation proceedings. Now, USCIS will reconsider some applications that have been recently denied, as long as they were pending on August 7. This means that deferred action is still not be available to new applicants, only those who had a renewal application pending when the policy went into effect. Although this is not the comprehensive reinstatement that immigration advocates were hoping for, it will grant reprieve for some of the recent applicants.

USCIS has said it has received about 1,000 deferred action requests a year, but that the “majority” have been denied. Going forward, USCIS said it will defer to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) so that agency can determine whether to grant non-military deferred action. ICE has said its agents have the discretion to determine which individuals will be prioritized for deportation.

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