Damaris Alameda Ramos and her husband Fabian Flores Aguirre applied for the grant, which allows migrant families to temporarily live and work in the country while they seek treatment for serious illnesses, so that they could continue to bring their son Fabian Flores Alameda to St Christopher’s Hospital for Children in Philadelphia, where he is receiving care.
The two year old, who, along with his sister, was born in the United States, was diagnosed with Langerhans Cell Histiocytosis (LCH) in April.
The disease, which causes masses of tissue to develop in the skull or on the arms and legs that can lead to fractures of the bones, requires the toddler to undergo chemotherapy. With the proper care, 80 per cent of those diagnosed with the disease can survive.
However, the family told The Philadelphia Inquirer that they were denied the grant on 11 November by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) - despite Ramos caring for her son full-time.
Now, Fabian’s parents, who grew up in the town of Chiautzingo before entering the United States without permission, fear they will be deported to Mexico - where they believe Fabian won’t be able to receive the proper treatment.
“Living in Mexico will be a death sentence for my child,” Ramos said. Aguirre reiterated the fear over his son’s future, telling the outlet: “I know my son would die if we were forced to return to Mexico.”
Their fear stems from the lack of accessible medical care in their home country, with their hometown consisting of just one doctor at a small clinic.
According to the family’s immigration lawyer, Audrey Allen, she believes the reason for the denial is “completely political,” because all five of the applications she has submitted in the state have been denied, whereas the two she submitted in New Jersey have been approved.
The family’s denial comes after the Trump administration ended the deferment program in August before reinstating it a month later after public backlash.
While the program was restored, there are concerns that all deferment requests to the office are simply denied.
In a statement to the outlet, a spokesperson for Philadelphia’s USCIS said the agency gets about 1,000 requests a year, and that most of those requests are denied. The Independent has contacted the state’s USCIS department.
As of now, neither Ramos nor Aguirre has received a “Notice to Appear,” which would indicate the start of deportation proceedings.
But, without the protection afforded by the grant, the family fears what will happen in the future.