US gov’t to deny green cards to immigrants using welfare programs

Robie de Guzman   •   August 13, 2019   •   2114

MANILA, Philippines – The administration of US President Donald Trump announced on Monday a new policy that seeks to deny green cards to immigrants deemed likely to rely on government public welfare programs such as food stamps, housing assistance and Medicaid.

In a news release, the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced the rule that “clearly defines long-standing law to better ensure that aliens seeking to enter and remain in the United States – either temporarily or permanently – are self-sufficient and rely on their own capabilities and the resources of family members, sponsors and private organizations rather than on public resources.”

The DHS said the final rule revised the definition of “public charge” to incorporate consideration of more kinds of public benefits received, which the Department believes will better ensure that applicants subject to the public charge inadmissibility ground are self-sufficient.

The term “public charge” is defined as an individual who receives one or more designated public benefits for more than 12 months, in the aggregate, within any 36-month period.

The rule further defines the term “public benefit” to include any cash benefits for income maintenance, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF), Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP), most forms of Medicaid, and certain housing programs.

The new policy amends regulations by prescribing how DHS will determine whether an alien is inadmissible to the United States based on their likelihood of becoming a public charge in the future as set forth in the Immigration and Nationality Act.

It addresses the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to permit an alien to submit a public charge bond in the context of adjustment of status applications.

The rule also makes nonimmigrant aliens who have received certain public benefits above a specific threshold generally ineligible for an extension of stay and change of status.

The regulation also excludes from the public benefits definition those received by individuals who are serving in the Ready Reserve component of the U.S. armed forces, and their spouses and children; those received by certain international adoptees and children acquiring U.S. citizenship; Medicaid for aliens under 21 and pregnant women; Medicaid for school-based services (including services provided under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act); and Medicaid benefits for emergency medical services.

It also makes non-immigrant aliens in the United States who have received designated public benefits above the set threshold ineligible for change of status and extension of stay if they received the benefits after obtaining the non-immigrant status they seek to extend or from which they seek to change, the agency said.

“For over a century, the public charge ground of inadmissibility has been part of our nation’s immigration laws. President Trump has delivered on his promise to the American people to enforce long-standing immigration law by defining the public charge inadmissibility ground that has been on the books for years,” said USCIS Acting Director Ken Cuccinelli.

“Throughout our history, self-sufficiency has been a core tenet of the American dream. Self-reliance, industriousness, and perseverance laid the foundation of our nation and have defined generations of hardworking immigrants seeking opportunity in the United States ever since. Through the enforcement of the public charge inadmissibility law, we will promote these long-standing ideals and immigrant success,” he added.

The regulation also explains how the USCIS will exercise its discretionary authority, in limited circumstances, to offer an alien inadmissible only on the public charge ground the opportunity to post a public charge bond.

The minimum bond amount is set at $8,100 while the actual bond amount will be dependent on the individual’s circumstances.

The US government, however, stressed this regulation does not apply to humanitarian-based immigration programs for refugees, asylees, Special Immigrant Juveniles (SIJs), certain trafficking victims (T non-immigrants), victims of qualifying criminal activity (U non-immigrants), or victims of domestic violence (VAWA self-petitioners), among others. 

The DHS said the final rule supersedes the 1999 Interim Field Guidance on Deportability and Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds.

It will take effect on October 15 or 60 days from the date of publication in the Federal Register.

The USCIS said it will apply the public charge inadmissibility final rule only to applications and petitions postmarked or submitted electronically on or after the effective date.

Applications and petitions already pending with USCIS will be adjudicated based on the 1999 Interim Guidance.   

The USCIS said it will provide information and additional details to the public as part of public outreach related to the implementation of this rule.

Engagement sessions will also be conducted to ensure the public understands which benefits are included in the public charge inadmissibility rule.

US gov’t sends additional P950 million aid for Odette-hit areas

Robie de Guzman   •   December 29, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The United States (US) government is allocating an additional P950 million ($19 million) in humanitarian assistance for communities affected by Typhoon Odette, its embassy in the Philippines said Wednesday.

In a statement, the embassy said the latest fund allocation brings the total US support to the Philippines to more than P1 billion ($20.2 million).

“The United States is pleased to announce an additional and significant assistance of P950 million, which brings our total amount of aid for Typhoon Odette to over P1 billion,” said U.S. Embassy in the Philippines Chargé d’Affaires (CDA) ad interim Heather Variava.

“We stand steadfast with our longstanding friend, partner, and ally in helping support communities devastated by the typhoon,” she added.

With this assistance, the US gov’t through the US Agency for International Development (USAID) will provide food aid; water, sanitation, and hygiene programs to help keep people healthy; and shelter assistance to meet emergency needs and help affected communities start rebuilding their homes.

“This additional assistance will help deliver food and hygiene supplies, and provide life-saving support to those most in need,” the embassy said.

The P950 million funding is in addition to the P50 million ($1 million) announced earlier this week to support emergency logistics efforts to ensure aid is delivered to those in hard-to-reach areas.

This assistance also builds on the P10 million ($200,000) relief assistance that USAID provided immediately after the storm.

The embassy said Variava plans to visit communities affected by Typhoon Odette and see ongoing U.S. relief activities.

Since 2010, USAID has provided more than P17 billion ($340 million) in disaster relief and recovery aid, and boosted the disaster risk reduction capacity of over 100 cities and municipalities in the Philippines.

 

Duterte to join democracy summit hosted by US – Palace

Robie de Guzman   •   December 8, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte is set to participate in the “Summit for Democracy” to be hosted by the United States government this week, Malacañang said.

In a statement, the Office of the President said Duterte will join the summit set on December 9 to 10 “upon the invitation of US President Joe Biden.”

“President Biden has invited heads of state and government, other government leaders and voices from the business and nongovernment sectors to join the US in taking action to strengthen democracy,” the Palace said.

Malacañang said Duterte “has accepted” Biden’s invitation.

“President Duterte likewise welcomes the opportunity to share the Philippine democratic experience and commitment to democratic values and nation-building at the Summit for Democracy,” it added.

Biden will convene world leaders from government, the private sector, business and the civil society in the virtual summit. It will focus on challenges and opportunities facing democracies and will provide a platform for leaders to announce both individual and collective commitments, reforms, and initiatives to defend democracy and human rights at home and abroad, according to the US State Department.

The summit has three key themes: Defending against authoritarianism, addressing and fighting corruption, and promoting respect for human rights.

The United States said the summit will offer an opportunity to listen, learn, and engage with a diverse range of actors whose support and commitment is critical for global democratic renewal.

US reopens borders to foreign tourists after 20 months

Aileen Cerrudo   •   November 8, 2021

The United States (US) has reopened its land and air borders to fully vaccinated foreign visitors after a 20-month travel restriction due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The US will lift its travel ban on 30 countries but will still implement strict regulations for foreign individuals arriving in the country. Passengers will be required be tested within three days before travel and will have to present negative Covid-19 test results. Unvaccinated travelers, meanwhile, will be allowed entry to the US as long as it falls under ‘essential trips’.

US borders were closed after March 2020 to travelers from large parts of the world, including the Canada, Mexico, the European Union, Britain and China, India and Brazil. AAC

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