Following weeks of public outcry against the abrupt cancellation of the US Customs and Immigration Service (USCIS) medical deferred action program, the acting secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Kevin McAleenan has instructed USCIS to resume consideration of medical deferral requests.
This policy reversal has been confirmed by numerous media outlets and a now-public statement by DHS representative Sharon Eshelman.
The UCSF Advocates community, a University-affiliated group dedicated to advancing health both locally and worldwide, had made Bueso’s case a top priority in recent weeks.
Allie Jones, Manager of Advocacy & Communications for the UCSF Office of Community & Government relations, characterized the reversal as a critical example of public action overcoming unacceptable policy and expressed hope for the future well-being of immigrant patients.
“We’re cautiously optimistic that patients like Isabel Bueso will be safe from deportation while receiving lifesaving care,” Jones stated in an email.
Recent testimony from UCSF patient Isabel Bueso was critical in increasing public awareness of the program’s abrupt cancellation in early August, which threatened the lives of hundreds of immigrants historically allowed to remain past the duration of their visas to receive life-saving care not available in their home countries.
With the most recent USCIS decision change, critically ill patients can once again focus on their health rather than their citizenship status.
Health providers and advocates, who rallied around Bueso and patients like her, are celebrating what appears to be a return to normalcy for this vulnerable population. Bueso was formally thanked by Mike Anderson, president of the Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland facility where she has long received her care, and by California Senator and Presidential hopeful Kamala Harris.
While Bueso’s own case is still uncertain, her latest deferral request is once again under review. For the hundreds of ill immigrants like her, this is at least a step in the right direction.
More information about UCSF Advocates can be found at their website.