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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.

Go deeper

Updated 35 mins ago - Health

WHO: Delta health measures help fight Omicron

Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

Health measures taken to combat COVID-19 before the emergence of Omicron would also help against the new variant of concern, World Health Organization officials said Friday.

What they're saying: Takeshi Kasai, WHO regional director for the Western Pacific, said during a virtual briefing broadcast from Manila, Philippines, that border controls imposed by the U.S. and other nations can "buy time" to deal with the variant, but warned "every country and every community must prepare for new surges in cases."

2 hours ago - Health

Nevada to impose insurance surcharge on unvaccinated state workers

Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak. Photo: Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Nevada's Public Employees' Benefit Program Board voted Thursday to charge workers enrolled in public employee health insurance plans a surcharge of up to $55 a month if they're not vaccinated against COVID-19, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reports.

Why it matters: Nevada is the first state to announce such a move, per AP.

Oklahoma sues Biden administration over Pentagon vaccine mandate

Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin testifies before a House Armed Services Committee hearing on Sept. 29 in Washington, D.C. Photo: Olivier Douliery/Pool via Getty Images

The state of Oklahoma filed a lawsuit against the Biden administration on Thursday in an attempt to block the enforcement of its vaccine mandate for federal employees.

Why it matters: The move comes one day after Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin denied Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt's (R) request to exempt the state's National Guard from the mandate.