Joe Biden: ‘Cruel’ Republicans Will ‘Unplug These Kids’

Democratic presidential candidate and former US Vice President Joe Biden addresses a crowd at a town hall event at Clinton College on August 29, 2019 in Rock Hill, South Carolina. Biden has spent Wednesday and Thursday campaigning in the early primary state. (Photo by Sean Rayford/Getty Images)
Sean Rayford/Getty Images

Joe Biden told a campaign audience that President Donald Trump’s immigration officials are forcing sick kids out of hospital beds because they want to be cruel.

He said:

Everyone from the ACLU to all the human right groups are trying to change what is happening. They literally giving notice to these families that they’ve got to unplug their kids and get them out of hospitals and take them out of America. [When] has that ever happened in the United States? We’re 300,000,000-plus people and the idea that we can’t tolerate saving the lives — or trying to help save the lives — of hundreds of children in deep need is just wrong. It is wrong. It has to stop.

Like so many others have said, cruelty is the point here. It is their only point, It all the have to run on — fear, anger, division, cruelty. So this can’t just be a [presidential] campaign about Donald Trump, it has to become a movement.

The statement came shortly before Biden took questions at his campaign event in Rock Hill, South Carolina.

Biden’s statement follows a publicity campaign by a Boston-based immigration law firm on behalf of about 15 patients, including parents from Honduras and Brazil.

Anthony Marino, the director of immigration legal services for the Irish International Immigrant Center, told WGBH news, that USCIS is not extending the “deferred action” status for deportable foreigners who are trying to keep U.S. medical care for their sick children. According to Marino:

In most cases, and I believe all the cases we have, they are people who initially entered on tourist visas. It is people who are just coming for a visit, and then a child fell ill or became injured, or it is somebody who came in as a visitor for a doctor’s appointment to get medical treatment.

We have people with … cystic fibrosis, muscular dystrophy, a child with HIV, multiple forms of cancer, very severe epilepsy, a child with a syndrome called ‘Sudden Death Syndrome’  — which is kind of what it sounds like… — so these are people who are seeking medical treatment for critical life-threatening conditions. We are not filing these [deferred action] applications for people with the flu. These are kids that are likely to die if they are not here receiving treatment that is only available here, or at least is not available in their home country.

Marino said he did not see a rational purpose in curbing a program which offers some foreigners’ access to U.S. medical care. “The cruelty is the point,” he told WGHB.

But many millions of foreigners see huge incentives to use small legal loopholes to live in the United States. For example, Congress unanimously passed a law in 2008 to help foreign girls who were trafficked for prostitution into the United States. Since 2011, at least 200,000 migrants children and youths from Central America — including many MS-13 gang members — have used that law to get into and stay in the United States.

Media outlets picked up the sick-child story after the law firm held a press conference. The Associated Press (AP) story said:

The Trump administration has eliminated a protection that lets immigrants remain in the country and avoid deportation while they or their relatives receive life-saving medical treatments or endure other hardships, immigration officials said in letters issued to families this month.

Critics denounced the decision as a cruel change that could force desperate migrants to accept lesser treatment in their poverty-stricken homelands.

Mariela Sanchez, a native of Honduras who recently applied for the special exemption, said a denial would amount to a death sentence for her 16-year-old son, Jonathan, who suffers from cystic fibrosis. They are among many families who settled in Boston to seek care at some of the nation’s top hospitals.

The AP reported that immigration officers receive up to 1,000 requests a year from parents seeking to keep their children in U.S. hospitals, saying:

The agency estimates it receives about 1,000 deferred action requests per year that are related neither to the military nor to DACA. Most of them cite medical or financial hardships, the agency said.

So-called “health tourism” is a growing problem in the United Kingdom where sick people can enroll themselves in British hospitals for taxpayer-funded care once they get past customs officials. Breitbart News reported in June:

Health tourism is believed to cost British taxpayers between £200 million and £2 billion every year. However, Dr Jackie Appleby, who proposed the motion, calls the millions — and potentially billions — of annual lost healthcare funding “peanuts in the grand scheme of things”.

Dr Duried Syad Ali, who opposed the motion, warned that “Accepting this motion is sending the wrong message to the world, inviting everyone to free health care,” while Dr George Rae said: “The message coming from the BMA is… get on the plane, get on the boat because you will get treatment on the NHS for nothing.”

In California, Democrats have pushed for rules allowing illegal migrants to receive free taxpayer healthcare. In June, Breitbart News reported:

The Democrat-dominated legislature of California has approved a plan to spend $213 billion in state and federal tax dollars on free healthcare for illegal immigrants.

The new plan would allow low-income illegals making about $17,000 a year between 19 and 25 years of age to join California’s Medicaid program, KHOU reported.

Democrats estimate that at least 90,000 illegal aliens would immediately qualify for the benefits at the cost of $98 million a year. The new plan also makes California the first U.S. state to give illegals free healthcare.

Biden played up the emotion in his speech, partly by citing his son’s death from cancer, saying:

Based on that news last night that I saw, I just could not believe it – they’re going to unplug these kids and make them leave by the 16th of September. Well, I can’t imagine. My son came back from Iraq as a decorated veteran … He got back, a year later he was diagnosed with Stage 4 glioblastoma, a cancer. They gave him months to live –it wasn’t whether he could live — it was just how long. I can’t imagine if I were the father, or an immigrant or I were undocumented, and my son was getting help, and they came along and said — I can’t imagine, I can’t imagine. We’ve got to speak up.

In 2012, Biden tried to boost support for President Barack Obama by telling a campaign audience of African-Americans that Republican candidate Mitt Romney would try to enslave them. “They’re gonna put y’all back in chains,” he said.

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