Immigration lawyers warn of new green card issues
As soon as it was announced that the Trump administration intends to make radical changes to limit the number of immigrants who can receive green cards on the basis of their use of state benefits, in the office of immigration lawyer Lisa Galindo began to ring the phone.
According to a practicing lawyer from Miami Springs (Fla.), It was difficult for her to give clear instructions and action plans to her clients, since the proposed rules, which will be published on Wednesday in the Federal Register, will not take effect for several more months and may change significantly since writes USA Today.
“We don’t know yet, we have to wait and see while they pass,” Galindo tells clients.
This combination of fear and confusion was triggered by the 447 pages of the new rules that were proposed by the administration of the US president.
At its core, the new rules will significantly expand the types of government benefits that, if used by immigrants, will allow them to interrupt their legalization process in the United States, disqualifying the relevant applications. The use of benefits suggests that the immigrant is likely to become a “public dependent” dependent on government services soon or in the future, according to Department of Homeland Security officials.
But that's not all. The proposal explicitly states that “caring for the consequences” of any public goods is likely to drive immigrants out of programs, even if they are eligible for benefits.
David Super, a law professor at Georgetown University who studies poverty and inequality, said the government's efforts have created a “frightening effect” among immigrants who are now scared of the public services to which they are legally entitled.
For example, although most immigrants cannot get food stamps or federal housing assistance, they can use the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children, known as WIC. This federal program provides assistance to pregnant and lactating women, as well as to children up to 5 years old, who are found to be at risk of malnutrition.
According to Super, the clinics say: immigrants refuse this help, which puts at risk the health of their families. But the decision to abandon the program causes another difficulty.
Agents intend to consider the "set of circumstances"
WIC is not explicitly prohibited in the proposed rules, but Super said the rules are structured to provide wide scope and flexibility for immigration agents. They will be able to reject applications for green cards based on the “set of circumstances” of each applicant, including their use of public services, health, age, marital status, education and other factors.
“(Using WIC) shouldn't affect you, but given the totality of the circumstances, the information is so open to scrutiny that many don't want to risk it,” he said.
The Department of Homeland Security recognizes that the new rules are limiting the number of people who can get green cards. It is estimated that more than 380 applicants a year applying for green cards are coming under closer scrutiny from the authorities. But the department also says it is necessary to reject applications from those who may become dependent on the state - this will save taxpayers $ 000 billion a year.
The rules now have to go through 60-day public comments, after which the administration will be able to make changes in response to the reaction of the public who oppose or support the new rules.
Democrats in Congress condemned the proposed rules.
Senator Tammy Duckworth of Illinois, whose mother is an immigrant from Thailand, called the proposal "as heartless as it is dangerous."
“My family teetered on the brink of homelessness when I was in high school and relied on food stamps to survive,” she said in a recent statement. "My mother is an immigrant, and if this proposal was created in those years, my family would have to choose between her citizenship and hunger."
“No family should be faced with this choice. No one should decide whether to choose emergency medical care, housing, food - or separation from loved ones. This offer is not just unfair. It's cruel, unacceptable and not American style. ”
"Everything should discourage immigration"
Regardless of what the administration decides, its new rules will almost certainly encourage immigration lawyers across the country to warn customers of caution regarding government benefits so that they don’t take any risk until they have a permanent legal status.
Gerald Burns, an immigration attorney from Chandler, Arizona, said he spoke with several immigrant parents who are considering that their children do not receive government assistance without jeopardizing green card applications.
“This is a difficult message for parents,” says the lawyer.
In his opinion, the proposed changes to the administration are aimed at preventing immigrants from applying for green cards and other immigration benefits.
“This is consistent with everything Trump and his administration have done,” he said. “Everything should prevent immigration.”
Caution in obtaining benefits or assistance
Galindo says immigrants should be careful in the coming months. when filling out tax documents. According to her, tax experts do their job, pointing out all possible benefits, but immigrants themselves should carefully review their tax returns to ensure that they do not receive benefits and loans that may jeopardize their applications for green cards.
Mary Carmen Madrid Krost, an immigration lawyer from Chicago, said immigrants should also be careful when working with notaries (a common name for attorneys in Latin America) as well as less qualified lawyers in the United States. She stated that such notaries could give immigrants “terrible” advice on changes to the rules that could jeopardize their green card applications.
Krost says that immigrants who seek help from social workers, should also be on the lookout. In an effort to help, these workers often sign up for any available government services, including federal, state, and local programs. Any of them can be taken against an immigrant if the proposed rules take effect.
This is a new reality that immigrants face, says Mary Krost, as the Trump administration continues to rewrite rules and regulations that limit the ability of legal and illegal immigrants to enter or remain in the United States.
“We call it the invisible wall,” she said. “I'm not trying to proclaim general doom and gloom, but we must be vigilant about what is happening.”
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