Posts tagged with "U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services"

Trump administration pulls welcome mat unless immigrants can pay their own way

August 14, 2019

President George Washington, known to this day as “the father of our country,” famously said, “The bosom of America is open to receive not only the Opulent and respected Stranger, but the oppressed and persecuted of all Nations and Religions; whom we shall welcome to a participation of all our rights and privileges ….”

However, now, that welcome mat is being pulled out from under the feet of both legal and illegal immigrants by the Trump administration, which on August 12 rolled out a sweeping rule that targets every newcomer who needs welfare benefits such as food stamps and government-subsidized housing.

According to a report by CBS News, the new regulation from the Department of Homeland Security would block the entry of any immigrants who would rely on a “public charge” or “public benefit” to provide the necessities of life.

Detailed in a more than 800-page document, the new regulation would dramatically expand the government’s definition of the centuries-old term “public charge,” effectively making it more difficult for certain low-income immigrants to secure permanent residency or temporary visas. The final and enforceable version of the rule is scheduled to be officially published on the Federal Register on August 14 and slated to go into effect in October.

The rule affects most aspects of life for immigrants — from medical care and English language proficiency, to food stamps and other welfare programs, according to the network news outlet.

Ken Cuccinelli, the acting director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the DHS agency that administers benefits for immigrants, touted the change as a way to promote “self-sufficiency” and “success” among immigrant communities.

“Through the public charge rule, President Trump’s administration is re-enforcing the ideals of self-sufficiency and personal responsibility ensuring immigrants are able to support themselves and become successful here in America,” Cuccinelli told reporters at the White House on Monday. 

Immigration authorities currently ask green card applicants to prove they won’t be a burden on the country, but the new regulation, if enacted, would require caseworkers to consider the use of government housing, food and medical assistance such as the widely used Section 8 housing vouchers and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

The rule would subject immigrant households that fall below certain income thresholds to the “public charge” test—which would also consider how well applicants speak, read and write English. Under the proposed rule, any diagnosed medical condition that requires extensive medical treatment would also “weigh heavily” in evaluations by caseworkers.

Asylum seekers and refugees would be exempt from this “public charge” test.

When the 60-day public comment window on the proposed rule closed last December, more than 260,000 comments had been sent to the Trump administration— nearly all of them, critical of the new regulation. However, those comments have not been considered in the creation of the rule.

Although the proposal does not include Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) assistance in its “public charge” considerations, researchers at the Health Policy Center believe immigrant parents, particularly in Latino and Asian American communities, will drop these benefits due to concerns surrounding their immigration status and ability to remain in the U.S. legally with their children.

Their only hope? As soon as the final rule was unveiled, several groups vowed to file lawsuits to try to block it, CBS News reported.

Research contact: @CBSNews

Nearly all asylum applicants from the last migrant caravan were allowed U.S. entry

October 29, 2018

More than 90% of the Central Americans who applied for asylum after arriving at the U.S. border in last spring’s caravan passed the first step of the application process and were allowed into the country, according to figures from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, BuzzFeed reported on October 26.

Of the 401 people whom USCIS considered to be part of the caravan, 374 (or 93%) passed what’s known as a credible fear of torture or persecution interview, during which immigration officials determine whether an asylum applicant has a well-founded suspicion that he or she will be tortured or persecuted back home because of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.

If they pass the interview with an asylum officer, their case goes before an immigration judge.

The high success rate of asylum seekers in the spring caravan—which arrived at the border in May following a month(s)-long trek across Mexico, may explain why the Trump administration now is considering ways to prevent new arrivals from applying for asylum at the border — something that is allowed under US immigration law. The overall success rate for asylum seekers’ credible fear interview has been 76% in 2018, BuzzFeed said.

Under a proposal that is still being debated inside the Trump administration, the president would issue a proclamation barring residents of certain countries from entering the United States as security risks. The Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice would then cite that proclamation to bar the asylum applicants.

According to the news outlet, “The move would be a sweeping change by the Trump administration to longstanding immigration practice and would undoubtedly draw a legal challenge. But advocates of the proposal believe a Supreme Court decision that allowed the Trump travel ban to go into effect earlier this year paved the way for such a step.”

Indeed, the president has repeatedly denounced the new caravan—which at one time numbered more than 7,000 people and is now about half that size—saying that it includes criminals, although nearly two-thirds of those fleeing persecution appear to be women and children. The majority of those in the new caravan are from Honduras and Guatemala.

“All of these threats and deterrents aren’t working because there is an actual credible refugee crisis,” Allegra Love, an immigration attorney who helped screen potential asylum-seekers during the last caravan, told BuzzFeed in an interview. “Short of closing the border to migrants and refugees there’s not a lot you can do,”

Love is concerned the Trump administration will close ports of entry to people with lawful asylum claims. “There are children on this caravan, I think we have to always remember we’re going to be closing doors to a child, not that adults don’t deserve the same compassion,” Love said. “We’re creating an international crisis.”

Research contact: adolfo.flores@buzzfeed.com