State Department, Duluth hospital attempting to deport man in a coma


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According to the family, they’ve received verbal notice that he will not be deported (more info and donate link: Also, the hospital not trying to deport him, but it is required to follow the state department rules, provided they do not contradict medical advice.

The hospital thing was pretty confusing. On the one hand they said they weren’t trying to deport him. On the other hand, his family said they were being pressured by the hospital to sign paper work allowing him to be moved to Pakistan.

The hospital can’t actually deport him, although they would like to. An indigent coma patient is expensive!

An indigent coma patient is a person, first.


Obviously you’re not a stakeholder, i.e. an insurance company.


More obviously, I’m not a sociopath, and neither are you. The devil needs no advocate and I am going to have a hard time seeing the humor in this situation.

I think that any doctor who goes along with this scheme might deserve to have their license revisited. This does harm. If we can afford to fire anonymous missiles at his homeland, then we can spare the life support.


Minnesota has a medical assistance program for this type of case called Emergency Medical Assistance. If someone with this type of immigration status (and others such as undocumented, H1 visas, etc) has an emergency medical need, one that requires medical intervention to sustain life, and no income or assets, then the State of Minnesota will pay for that care. I do not understand why the hospital has not applied on behalf of this man to get the medical expenses paid.

It wouldn’t surprise me if “months-long coma” doesn’t count as an “emergency” under the small print.


“Coma” itself is not covered. Need to be fed via a feeding tube to sustain life would be. Need to have IV fluids to sustain life also would be. We have lots of people in nursing homes and other long term care facilities on EMA.

Nope Nope Nope
Disappointed on several fronts… My first wish was “let it be Duluth, GA” – nope! (I always expect Minnesotans to be above average); my second wish was “let it be Bieber” Nope again! So I gave up on hope and just thought “perhaps he is some sort of horrible felon” – 'nother nope.

I don’t know why it still happens, but I am always caught aghast when I see articles on this practice – I should be inured to it by now…

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Official comment from the Press Section of the United States Department of State:

The State Department is not/not attempting to deport or remove this student from the United States. Our hearts go out to him and his family, and we are working closely with them as they determine next steps for him. We have worked to ensure that the student remains in status while they work through these difficult decisions.

The State Department continues to work with the hospital, the student program sponsors and others to assist this young man and his family during this very difficult time. He has received excellent medical care, and our Embassy in Pakistan has been in regular contact with the family, including facilitating travel by family members to the U.S. to be with their loved one.

We here in Washington are continuing to work with the family, the hospital and the Pakistan Embassy to ensure the student receives the best care. His future treatment involves a number of factors that the family must weigh, and we are making every effort to offer as much flexibility as possible in maintaining his status while the family considers their options.

Unfortunately, due to privacy concerns, we cannot provide further information at this time. However, this issue was addressed by State Department Deputy Spokesperson Marie Harf, on the record, during a regular Daily Press Briefing. The transcript is available here:

I’m pretty sure that would count as both cruel and unusual, no? Dropping off a man in a coma in a place with no modern medical care?

Can you clarify, then, why his visa extension was rejected? That decision doesn’t particularly seem in keeping with what you say here.


So you all know, I’ve updated this story to include an update from the Star Tribune newspaper. The State Department has told them that they are not seeking to deport Bajwa. This appears to be different from what the hospital understood and possibly different from what the hospital told Bajwa’s family, but, in general, it sounds like there’s a lot of miscommunication happening between all the parties involved in this unfortunate case.

As I told Maggie on the phone, this is all technically complicated and we can’t go into much detail publically because of privacy concerns. But in short, a visa only allows you to enter the United States; it has nothing to do with your legal right to remain in the United States. What matters is his legal status in the United States, not his visa. As we said above – we are making every effort to offer as much flexibility as possible in maintaining his status while the family considers their options. We are not seeking to deport or remove the student.

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I know immigration law is complicated and hard - I wouldn’t have a job if it were easy - but these reports have got to stop until we all have some clarity on who is responsible for what. The Dep’t of State has no authority to deport anyone. That’s ICE through the Department of Homeland Security, usually in a process that involves the Executive Office for Immigration Review (the immigration courts, part of the Dep’t of Justice). To make things simple: 1. A visa is permission to apply for admission to the US. Think of it like pre approval for a credit card. 2. DHS (through USCIS and CBP) decides whether to actually admit a person, for how long, and in what category. 3. DHS is responsible for removing (deporting) people. 4. Because the visa is only relevant at entry, expiration of a visa has no effect on a person’s status in the US after they have been admitted. 5. Student visas (F-1) are “duration of status” visas, meaning once admitted, the individual is lawfully allowed to be in the US as long as s/he qualifies as a student. This is determined by DHS regulations and by USCIS through the SEVIS student information system, which tracks things like current enrollment and which relies on the individual schools for monitoring. 6. Hospitals have been known to pay for flights out of the country for very ill patients in order to avoid providing continuing care. This is in no way connected to legal removal (deportation) and has nothing to do with visas or status. Once outside the US (by any means), the individual would have to reapply for admission and would, if the visa were expired, have to apply to DOS (through the US embassy or consulate) for a new visa. It is only in renewing the visa that DOS takes an active role.

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