Washington, D.C. – The Arc is deeply concerned over a cruel federal policy shift that hurts families and immigrants with serious illnesses, certain disabilities, and other chronic health conditions. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has eliminated a protection that allowed some immigrants with serious medical needs and their family members who care for them to stay in the country while receiving life-saving treatment. This change hurts people with multiple diagnoses or serious health needs, including individuals with cerebral palsy, epilepsy, muscular dystrophy, and other developmental disabilities, as well as cancer, HIV, and other diseases.
In addition, we are troubled USCIS ended the exemption, officially known as deferred action, without advance public notice or due process. The change creates turmoil, fear and potentially devastating consequences for people who are facing serious medical illness and their families. Some health care providers have also expressed strong opposition to the change.
“The lives of sick children and adults with developmental disabilities are in danger. Some families will forego necessary medical treatment to stay in the U.S. or face deportation to countries where they cannot receive the care they need – a death sentence,” said Peter Berns, CEO, The Arc. “We urge USCIS to reverse course immediately.”
In a letter to USCIS, The Arc and more than 150 advocacy organizations and legal groups called on the agency to reverse this inhumane and unfair shift in policy.
The Arc urges Congress to hold USCIS accountable. We will pay close attention to the upcoming House Oversight Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties hearing on the issue, scheduled for Wednesday, September 11. All people with intellectual and developmental disabilities are entitled to human and civil rights.
The Arc advocates for and serves people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD), including Down syndrome, autism, Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders, cerebral palsy and other diagnoses. The Arc has a network of over 600 chapters across the country promoting and protecting the human rights of people with I/DD and actively supporting their full inclusion and participation in the community throughout their lifetimes and without regard to diagnosis.
Editor’s Note: The Arc is not an acronym; always refer to us as The Arc, not The ARC and never ARC. The Arc should be considered as a title or a phrase.