Former Immigration Judge Fact-Checks Joe Biden’s ‘Unplug These Kids’ Line

DES MOINES, IA - AUGUST 10: Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden speaks on stage during a forum on gun safety at the Iowa Events Center on August 10, 2019 in Des Moines, Iowa. The event was hosted by Everytown for Gun Safety. (Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty …
Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

Art Arthur, a resident fellow at the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) and former immigration judge, explained a Trump administration immigration policy change that Joe Biden said would “unplug” migrant children from life-saving health care, offering his analysis in a Thursday interview on SiriusXM’s Breitbart News Tonight with hosts Rebecca Mansour and Joel Pollak.

The policy change transfers responsibility for adjudicating applications for deferred action submitted by aliens illegally in the United States to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), explained Arthur.

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Biden said the new policy would yield deportations of hospitalized migrant children and result in said children’s deaths:

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. … 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 they 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.

Arthur explained, “[Joe Biden’s] claim relates to individuals who have filed applications for deferred action with USCIS … and these are individuals who are in the United States illegally who have applied for deferred action.”

“Deferred action is granted, usually, on an ad hoc basis,” continued Arthur. “You and I know it best from Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals [DACA] which was granted to 690,000 individuals, not on an ad hoc basis. But deferred action is sort of one of those funny things that is just kind of made up in the law, and about ten percent of all the deferred action requests go to individuals who are caring for sick members. About nine percent are for individuals who have illnesses themselves.”

Arthur went on, “On August the 7th, 2019, the administration shifted the responsibility for adjudicating these requests to where it should be, and that’s with the enforcement agency Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Of course, [ICE] has been doing this for years under 8 CFR section 241.6, for an administrative stay of removal. In fact, there’s even a form for it. “

“I’m a little surprised that all this has gone on — nobody’s really mentioned this — the form I-246 that you file called an Application for a Stay of Deportation or Removal, and one of the grounds for requesting a stay of deportation or removal is medical grounds. So in reality, what this is doing is consolidating the responsibility for who is going to adjudicate these requests with the enforcement agency.”

Arthur added, “If, at the end of the period, the medical stay is no longer needed, the individual will either be given the option to leave the United States or will be placed into proceedings.”

Biden’s mischaracterization of the new policy, speculated Arthur, is designed to elicit an emotional reaction against President Donald Trump.

“It’s one of those things that just kind of tugs at the heartstrings, so it’s been pushed out there by individuals that want to attack the president,” estimated Arthur.

Arther remarked, “It’s really based on a misunderstanding of the law. The worst part is, members of Congress have been pushing this out there. Joe Biden, who himself sat in the Senate for decades, and as vice president, should be aware of how this program works. Unfortunately, it sounds like he doesn’t.”

The new policy amounts to “a change in the responsibility for who’s going to be adjudicating these requests, from one agency to another,” Arthur noted, adding, “It’s a rearrangement of responsibilities, but it’s not a change that’s going to adversely affect people’s lives. It’s simply a change in responsibilities.”

The Associated Press (AP) falsely reported, “The administration ended a policy shielding certain immigrants from deportation if they’re seeking life-saving medical treatment,” failing to note the aforementioned information.

Pollak recalled Biden’s “inflammatory” characterization of the policy change.

“The way Joe Biden phrased it tonight was that Donald Trump is pulling the plug on kids with cancer and sending them to other countries, sending them back where they came from — kids with cancer, kids with all kinds of strange diseases. Is that what is happening?” asked Pollak. “It’s now part of his stump speech. He’s said it twice on the road in South Carolina.”

Arthur replied, “The simple response to that is that the responsibility for adjudicating these requests is going over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which is the law enforcement agency responsible for placing people into proceedings and for actually removing them from the United States.”

“This is the appropriate agency to [adjudicate] a request for a deferral of removal,” added Arthur. “It always should have been with them. … They actually have this authority and they can execute it the way that they do right now.”

Arthur went on. “Is this a significant change? No, it’s not. But people get so caught up in the emotion of this, that when you start talking about forms and regulatory numbers, all that gets lost, and all you hear is, ‘Epilepsy. Leukemia. Cancer,’ and that’s the problem we have the news cycle we have today. That’s the problem with the political climate we have today — that there’s very little room for the facts to percolate up. All there is room for is the shouting of the words, the pulling of the heartstrings, and the emotional response.”

Aliens illegally in the U.S. receiving life support in hospitals “are not high priorities for ICE to actually remove,” Arthur observed. “They’re not high priorities for USCIS to actually place into proceedings.”

Arthur noted the AP’s disinterest in details pertaining to the new policy.

“I’ve spoken to the Associated Press before, they didn’t ask me about this,” Arthur shared, noting ICE’s prioritization of deportations based on risk. “The facts need to get out there. The more we talk about it, the better.”

Breitbart News Tonight broadcasts live on SiriusXM Patriot channel 125 weeknights from 9:00 p.m. to midnight Eastern or 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Pacific.

Follow Robert Kraychik on Twitter @rkraychik.

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