Sep 19, 2019

Migrants battling serious illness can again get temporary deportation protection

Immigrants Mariela, Jonathan, who has cysic fibrosis, and Gary Sanchez after a press conference on the termination of medical deferred action. Photo: Nic Antaya/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Immigrants battling serious illnesses in the U.S. can again receive temporary protection from deportation from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), according to a Department of Homeland Security email sent to House Oversight Committee members on Thursday.

Why it matters: USCIS stopped accepting applications for the medical deferred action program last month. Reports of immigrants battling life-threatening illnesses who might have been forced to leave the country sparked outcry from lawmakers and the public. The email to Oversight Committee members said that acting DHS Secretary Kevin McAleenan directed USCIS to reinstate the program.

Background: USCIS began sending letters in August to applicants for the medical deferred action program, which said protections were no longer available and they must leave the U.S. within 33 days.

  • USCIS claimed Immigration and Customs Enforcement would oversee the program — to the surprise of the interior immigration enforcement agency, which said it was not prepared to do so.
  • Earlier this month, USCIS said it would again consider applications for the program that were already pending when they stopped accepting applications.
  • The House Oversight Committee held a hearing last week and announced on Wednesday they would be holding a second hearing on the issue.
  • Now, it seems the program will resume in full.

"It should not take an emergency hearing by Congress — and threats for more — to force the Trump administration to do the right thing," Oversight and Reform Chairman Elijah Cummings said in a statement.

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Millions of immigrant files physically stored in underground Missouri cave

Acting Director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Ken Cuccinelli. Photo: Chen Mengtong/China News Service/Visual China Group via Getty Images

Officials are trying to carry out President Trump's months-old directive demanding that sponsors of immigrants pay the government for the costs when those immigrants used certain public benefits. But to tabulate that, they have to go through a cave in Missouri.

The bottom line: The majority of those immigration files — including sponsors' information — are located on physical sheets of paper often stored in a large, underground facility in Kansas City's limestone caves, multiple current and former government officials tell Axios.

Go deeperArrowSep 29, 2019

Rep. Elijah Cummings dies at 68

Photo: Cheriss May/NurPhoto via Getty Images

House Oversight Chairman Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) died Thursday at age 68 due to "complications concerning longstanding health challenges," according to a statement from his office.

The big picture: Cummings had become one of the most visible House Democrats in recent years, given his committee's broad power to conduct oversight investigations against the Trump administration. As chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, he was a leading figure in the Trump impeachment inquiry. This summer, President Trump attacked his Baltimore district as "disgusting" and "rodent infested," prompting bipartisan outrage.

Keep ReadingArrowOct 17, 2019

Scoop: House Intelligence Committee to hear from inspector general on Ukraine

Intelligence Committee ranking member Devin Nunes and chairman Adam Schiff at Thursday's hearing on Ukraine. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

The House Intelligence Committee will return from the House recess for a closed hearing Oct. 4 featuring testimony from Michael Atkinson, the intelligence community inspector general who handled the whistleblower complaint over President Trump's actions on Ukraine, two committee sources told Axios. The committee later confirmed the hearing.

Why it matters: Atkinson is the inspector general who determined that the whistleblower complaint was an "urgent concern" that "appears credible." Atkinson is likely to be able to give the most detailed testimony on the issues raised by the complaint, short of the committee hearing directly from the whistleblower.

Go deeperArrowSep 27, 2019