Category: immigration

New Trump administration rules can deny green cards to immigrants on food stamps

The Trump administration released a regulation Monday that could dramatically cut the number of legal immigrants allowed to enter and stay in the US by making it easier to reject green card and visa applications.

Paired with last week’s enforcement raids on food processing plants in Mississippi, Monday’s announcement amounts to a concerted effort by the administration to limit legal immigration and crack down on illegal immigration.

The rule means many green card and visa applicants could be turned down if they have low incomes or little education, and have used benefits such as most forms of Medicaid, food stamps, and housing vouchers, because they’d be deemed more likely to need government assistance in the future.

It will encourage “self-reliance and self-sufficiency for those seeking to come to or stay in the United States,” said acting US Citizenship and Immigration Services Director Ken Cuccinelli, appearing in the White House briefing room. In doing so, though, it’ll likely make it harder for low-income immigrants to come to the US.

When asked about whether the rule is unfairly targeting low-income immigrants, Cuccinelli said: “We certainly expect people of any income to be able to stand on their own two feet, so if people are not able to be self-sufficient, than this negative factor is going to bear very heavily against them in a decision about whether they’ll be able to become a legal permanent resident. ”

The 837-page rule applies to those seeking to come to or remain in the United States via legal channels and is expected to impact roughly 383,000 people, according to the Department of Homeland Security.

Under current regulations put in place in 1996, the term “public charge” is defined as someone who is “primarily dependent” on government assistance, meaning it supplies more than half their income. But it only counted cash benefits, such as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families or Supplemental Security Income from Social Security.

Officials can take into account an applicant’s financial resources, health, education, skills, family status and age. But few people are rejected on these relatively narrow grounds, experts said.

Who the rule does and doesn’t include

Immigrant advocates have argued that the rule, as it was proposed, went far beyond what Congress intended and would discriminate against those from poorer countries, keep families apart and prompt legal residents to forgo needed public aid, which could also impact their US citizen children.

They also said it would penalize even hard-working immigrants who only need a small bit of temporary assistance from the government.

Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke immediately slammed the proposal

“Legal. Undocumented. Refugee. Asylum Seeker. The distinctions don’t matter to President Trump. If you’re an immigrant, he believes you have no place in this country—even though, for 243 years, immigrants have made America the greatest nation the world has ever known,” the former Texas congressman tweeted.

There are exceptions to the rule, such as benefits received by active duty member of the military, Medicaid for pregnant women, children under 21 years old, and emergency medical care.

The rule also doesn’t impact refugees or asylum seekers.

Earlier this year, President Donald Trump also issued a memorandum doubling down on a current law that requires immigrants’ sponsors to take financial responsibility for certain income-based government benefits the immigrant receives. It’s unclear whether enforcing the law would make any substantial difference.

Undocumented immigrants would not be affected — unless an avenue opens up for them to apply for green cards or visas since they are largely ineligible for public aid.

Advocates warned of chilling effect

Monday’s regulation is likely to meet legal challenges, but it could still cause some who fear retribution to alter their daily lives.

About one in seven adults in immigrant families reported that either the person or a family member did not participate in a non-cash safety net program last year because of fear of risking his or her green card status in the future, an Urban Institute study found.

Among low-income immigrant families, the figure was more than one in five, according to the study, which was based on a December 2018 survey of nearly 2,000 non-elderly adults who are foreign born or live with at least one foreign-born family member.

The rule will take effect October 15.

Government report on border detention conditions shocks Utah Latino activists

Images of detained asylum seekers on the U.S. Mexico border have shocked many of Utah’s Latino residents, says Luis Garza, the executive director of Comunidades Unidas of Utah.

“We need to remember that the people that are currently in those detention facilities, they are children and families and are not criminals,” Garza said.

Conditions on the border were documented in a report from the Inspector General of the Department of Homeland Security in a report prepared after a June visit to the Rio Grande Valley section of the border.

In the report, the response from the DHS says, “DHS is devoted to the care and processing of the individuals in our custody with the utmost dignity and respect.”

Supreme Court to decide future of DACA protections for undocumented immigrants

By Ariane de Vogue and Priscilla Alvarez, CNN

The Supreme Court said Friday it will review next term President Donald Trump’s decision to terminate an Obama-era program that protects hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants who came to the US as children, setting up a potential decision in the heart of the 2020 presidential election.

A decision siding with the administration could strip protections for some 700,000 so-called Dreamers.

The justices have been considering whether to take up the case for months, while allowing renewals for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program to continue, even as the Trump administration cracked down on issues related to immigration. Renewals for the program will continue as the court considers the case.

The announcement was made with no noted dissent.

The program, which protects participants from deportation and allows them to work in the US, has become a focal point in the debate over Trump’s proposed US-Mexico border wall and efforts to crack down on immigration.

Trump has repeatedly cited the fact that lower courts blocked his effort to phase out DACA and the potential for a Supreme Court review as a reason not to make a deal with Democrats to extend the program on a comprehensive immigration bill.

Many DACA recipients are unable to obtain legal status on their own because they were either brought into the country illegally or they overstayed their visas. That often precludes them from becoming a lawful permanent resident because one of the requirements is having entered — and resided in — the country legally.

While legislation has been introduced to enshrine the protections into law, it faces an uphill battle, giving additional weight to the Supreme Court’s impending decision.

The Democratic-controlled House of Representatives passed a bill earlier this year that would provide a pathway to citizenship for more than 1 million undocumented immigrants, including DACA recipients, but it is highly unlikely to become law anytime soon, particularly ahead of a presidential election. Even if it were to pass the Republican-controlled Senate, it faces a certain veto from Trump.

Supreme Court to decide future of DACA protections for undocumented immigrants

By Ariane de Vogue and Priscilla Alvarez, CNN

The Supreme Court said Friday it will review next term President Donald Trump’s decision to terminate an Obama-era program that protects hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants who came to the US as children, setting up a potential decision in the heart of the 2020 presidential election.

A decision siding with the administration could strip protections for some 700,000 so-called Dreamers.

The justices have been considering whether to take up the case for months, while allowing renewals for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program to continue, even as the Trump administration cracked down on issues related to immigration. Renewals for the program will continue as the court considers the case.

The announcement was made with no noted dissent.

The program, which protects participants from deportation and allows them to work in the US, has become a focal point in the debate over Trump’s proposed US-Mexico border wall and efforts to crack down on immigration.

Trump has repeatedly cited the fact that lower courts blocked his effort to phase out DACA and the potential for a Supreme Court review as a reason not to make a deal with Democrats to extend the program on a comprehensive immigration bill.

Many DACA recipients are unable to obtain legal status on their own because they were either brought into the country illegally or they overstayed their visas. That often precludes them from becoming a lawful permanent resident because one of the requirements is having entered — and resided in — the country legally.

While legislation has been introduced to enshrine the protections into law, it faces an uphill battle, giving additional weight to the Supreme Court’s impending decision.

The Democratic-controlled House of Representatives passed a bill earlier this year that would provide a pathway to citizenship for more than 1 million undocumented immigrants, including DACA recipients, but it is highly unlikely to become law anytime soon, particularly ahead of a presidential election. Even if it were to pass the Republican-controlled Senate, it faces a certain veto from Trump.

Graphic Video Warning: A woman watched her husband and daughter drown at the Mexican border, report says

By Christina Maxouris, Steve Almasy and Natalie Gallón, CNN

More than 1,000 miles from the river bank where the bodies of her son and granddaughter washed ashore, Rosa Ramírez wept.

At her home in San Martín, El Salvador, Ramírez clutched what she said were some of Angie Valeria’s favorite toys — a baby doll and a stuffed purple monkey, holding a heart.

The devastating photo of 23-month-old Angie Valeria and her father Oscar Alberto Martínez floating in the Rio Grande is a grim reminder of harsh realities at the southern US border. It’s shaken viewers around the world.

The image shows a heartbreaking end to a harrowing journey.

Ramírez told reporters from CNN affiliate Canal 33 how that journey began.

Months before the river’s rushing currents claimed their lives, and months before a photographer’s shutter captured the searing image of their death, Ramirez said she tried to convince her son and his family not to make the dangerous trek north.

“As a mother, you don’t want your children to be so far away,” she said. “But…the idea of leaving had gotten into their heads.”

Oscar had been working as a cook in a pizzeria while the family lived with her in San Martín, a municipality in central El Salvador just east of the country’s capital.

They wanted to have their own home, Ramírez said.

“That,” she said, “was what motivated them.”

WARNING: The video below contains images and footage of a man and child who drowned. Viewer discretion is advised. 

Ramírez told CNN en Español that the death of her son and granddaughter has forever changed her. She’s turning to God and religion for strength.

“Nothing can fill this emptiness,” she said. “But at least this gives me strength to cope.”

José Martínez said he’d spoken on the phone with his son just days earlier, on Friday.

“He had already been in Mexico for a few days, and everything had been going wonderfully,” Martínez said.

But in reality, conditions in Matamoros, Mexico, the border city where the family had been waiting to present themselves at a US port of entry and seek asylum, were more difficult, according to La Jornada, the Mexican newspaper that first reported the story of the father and daughter’s deaths.

At the end of May, more than 2,000 migrants were waiting “in conditions of hunger and overcrowding” there to seek asylum at ports where, according to La Jornada, US agents granted an average of three appointments per week.

Tania Vanessa Ávalos, Oscar’s wife and Angie Valeria’s mother, told the newspaper her family had grown increasingly desperate as temperatures reached over 110 degrees. They had been in a migrant camp in Matamoros since Sunday, the newspaper said, citing Ávalos.

That’s when Oscar made a fateful decision. Instead of waiting any longer, they would cross the river into the US.

“Óscar Alberto took Valeria in his arms and entered the water; he swam to other side and reached mainland, where he left his daughter. Immediately after, he returned and went for Tania,” La Jornada said. “However, in an instant he realized that the girl, after seeing that he was getting away, threw herself into the water. Óscar Alberto returned and managed to get a hold of the little girl, but a strong current dragged and sank them.”

Speaking to reporters in El Salvador as they tried to piece together the devastating news, Rosa Ramírez and José Martinez recounted what they’d heard about the tragedy.

Ramírez said her son died while trying to save his daughter’s life.

A woman watched her husband and daughter drown at the Mexican border, report says

By Christina Maxouris, Steve Almasy and Natalie Gallón, CNN

More than 1,000 miles from the river bank where the bodies of her son and granddaughter washed ashore, Rosa Ramírez wept.

At her home in San Martín, El Salvador, Ramírez clutched what she said were some of Angie Valeria’s favorite toys — a baby doll and a stuffed purple monkey, holding a heart.

The devastating photo of 23-month-old Angie Valeria and her father Oscar Alberto Martínez floating in the Rio Grande is a grim reminder of harsh realities at the southern US border. It’s shaken viewers around the world.

The image shows a heartbreaking end to a harrowing journey.

Ramírez told reporters from CNN affiliate Canal 33 how that journey began.

Months before the river’s rushing currents claimed their lives, and months before a photographer’s shutter captured the searing image of their death, Ramirez said she tried to convince her son and his family not to make the dangerous trek north.

“As a mother, you don’t want your children to be so far away,” she said. “But…the idea of leaving had gotten into their heads.”

Oscar had been working as a cook in a pizzeria while the family lived with her in San Martín, a municipality in central El Salvador just east of the country’s capital.

They wanted to have their own home, Ramírez said.

“That,” she said, “was what motivated them.”

WARNING: The video below contains images and footage of a man and child who drowned. Viewer discretion is advised. 

Ramírez told CNN en Español that the death of her son and granddaughter has forever changed her. She’s turning to God and religion for strength.

“Nothing can fill this emptiness,” she said. “But at least this gives me strength to cope.”

José Martínez said he’d spoken on the phone with his son just days earlier, on Friday.

“He had already been in Mexico for a few days, and everything had been going wonderfully,” Martínez said.

But in reality, conditions in Matamoros, Mexico, the border city where the family had been waiting to present themselves at a US port of entry and seek asylum, were more difficult, according to La Jornada, the Mexican newspaper that first reported the story of the father and daughter’s deaths.

At the end of May, more than 2,000 migrants were waiting “in conditions of hunger and overcrowding” there to seek asylum at ports where, according to La Jornada, US agents granted an average of three appointments per week.

Tania Vanessa Ávalos, Oscar’s wife and Angie Valeria’s mother, told the newspaper her family had grown increasingly desperate as temperatures reached over 110 degrees. They had been in a migrant camp in Matamoros since Sunday, the newspaper said, citing Ávalos.

That’s when Oscar made a fateful decision. Instead of waiting any longer, they would cross the river into the US.

“Óscar Alberto took Valeria in his arms and entered the water; he swam to other side and reached mainland, where he left his daughter. Immediately after, he returned and went for Tania,” La Jornada said. “However, in an instant he realized that the girl, after seeing that he was getting away, threw herself into the water. Óscar Alberto returned and managed to get a hold of the little girl, but a strong current dragged and sank them.”

Speaking to reporters in El Salvador as they tried to piece together the devastating news, Rosa Ramírez and José Martinez recounted what they’d heard about the tragedy.

Ramírez said her son died while trying to save his daughter’s life.

Two Salvadoran migrants died in US custody near Mexican border

By Tina Burnside and Joe Sterling, CNN

Two Salvadorans — a transgender woman and a man — died in US custody near the Mexican border after suffering health problems in separate incidents this weekend, authorities said.

Jonathan Alberto “aka Johana” Medina Leon, 25, died at the Del Sol Medical Center in El Paso on Saturday, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency said.

Medina Leon first encountered immigration officials on April 11 “while illegally entering the United States from Mexico at the Paso Del Norte” Port of Entry, and was taken into ICE custody three days later.

ICE determined her fear of persecution if she were to be repatriated was credible on May 18 and she was issued a notice to appear before a US immigration judge on May 22.

On May 28, Medina Leon “requested to be tested for HIV and tested positive” and she was transferred to the hospital after she complained of chest pains.

“That same day, her case was reviewed and she was processed for release on parole,” ICE said in a statement.

“This is yet another unfortunate example of an individual who illegally enters the United States with an untreated, unscreened medical condition,” said Corey A. Price, field office director for ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations in El Paso.

“There is a crisis at our southern border with a mass influx of aliens lured by the lies of human smugglers who profit without regard for human life or well-being. Many of these aliens attempt to enter the United States with untreated or unknown diseases, which are not diagnosed until they are examined while in detention.”

‘Apparent seizure’ leads to man’s death

A Salvadoran national on Sunday died of “an apparent seizure” after he was apprehended in Texas near the Mexican border, the US Customs and Border Patrol said on Sunday.

The incident took place when agents apprehended undocumented immigrants near Roma, Texas at 12:10 p.m. Several minutes later, agents reported that a man suffered a seizure and became “unresponsive.”

An emergency worker tried to revive him and he was transported to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

“A 33-year old Salvadoran man suffered a seizure and passed away after emergency medical personnel attempted to save his life. On behalf of the men and women of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, we extend our deepest condolences to those who are just learning of the tragic death of their loved one,” Acting Commissioner CPB Commissioner John P. Sanders said in a statement.

CBP is waiting to notify the next of kin before it releases the man’s name.

“The care of those in CBP’s custody is paramount. Consistent with policy, CBP’s Office of Professional Responsibility has initiated a review. The Department of Homeland Security’s Office of the Inspector General and the Government of El Salvador have been notified,” the agency said in a statement.

Gov. Herbert to be honored for his work on behalf of refugees

SALT LAKE CITY — We’ve heard Gov. Gary Herbert say time and time again: Utah is a welcoming state, drawing on our pioneer roots.

For the 65,000 refugees who call Utah home, many feel the Governor has not only opened the door but has provided them with the support they need to thrive in their new surroundings.

The refugee community will present Herbert with a Lifetime Achievement Award Friday morning.

Herbert has a track record of welcoming refugees from all over, including Syria and other Muslim countries despite the uncertainty for refugee support in the US.

Two years ago he signed a minority and refugee resolution called Guarding the Civil Liberties and Freedoms for all American People.

The governor has been a big proponent of helping refugees integrate into their new homes—providing them resources to find jobs, housing, and learn language skills.

The award will be presented Friday at an event that begins at 8:30 a.m. in Salt Lake City