Scare about Trump’s new Public Charge rule?

by Jose Enrique Perez

Not for the moment. Personally, I don’t think courts will allow the rule to go into effect. In August 2019, the Trump Administration announced a final rule that changes the public charge policies used to determine whether an individual applying for admission or adjustment of status is inadmissible to the U.S. under longstanding policy, the federal government can deny an individual entry into the U.S. or adjustment to legal permanent resident (LPR) status (i.e., a green card) if he or she is determined likely to become a public charge. Please note that the final public charge rule is expected to into effect on October 15, 2019. However, there are many lawsuits seeking injunctive relief against it.

What is the current law? Currently, immigration officers decide public charge by evaluating whether an applicant for a green card or an individual seeking to enter the United States on certain visas is likely to become primarily dependent on the government for support.

To decide whether an individual is a public charge, immigration officers rely on multiple things, but mainly on the “affidavit of support,” which is a contract signed by the immigrant’s sponsor, indicating that the sponsor will financially support the immigrant. Another factor is whether an immigrant has used cash aid (such as TANF, also known as “welfare,” or SSI).

Benefits received by family members of the immigrant are not considered or emergency medical care or disaster relief. Additionally, Medicaid received by applicants while under age 21 or while pregnant are not considered.

Individuals seeking to enter the United States apply at consulates abroad. At the consulates, the officers use the Foreign Affairs Manual (FAM) as guidance on how to make decisions and how to investigate the sponsor.

What is the new rule? Now, instead of assessing whether an applicant is likely to become primarily dependent on the government for income support, the new rule defines a public charge as a person who receives any number of public benefits for more than an aggregate of 12 months over any 36-month period of time. Each benefit used counts toward the 12-month calculation. For instance, if an applicant receives two different benefits in one month, that counts as two-months’ use of benefits. It is important to remember that prior receipt of benefits is only one factor in the public charge test.

Use of publicly-funded health care, nutrition, and housing programs are not currently considered negative factors for purposes of public charge. The rule expands the public charge and now will include Medicaid, SNAP or Food Stamps, Section 8 housing assistance, any cash aid, including not just TANF and SSI but also any state or local cash assistance program, could make an individual inadmissible under the public charge ground.

The rule allows immigration officers to consider English proficiency (positive), or lack of English proficiency (negative); medical conditions and availability of private health insurance; and past use of immigration fee waivers. The rule will require immigrants to attach a Declaration of Self-Sufficiency when applying for a green card in addition to the many forms already required.

The new rule creates “heavily weighted negative factors” (12 months of public benefits in the aggregate over the 36-month period) and a couple “heavily weighted positive factors” (a household income of at least 250% of the federal poverty level).

Bonds are possible where an immigration officer finds inadmissibility based on public charge.

Most Importantly: The new rule will apply to adjustment of status applications postmarked on or after October 15, 2019 (not those pending or postmarked before that date). Also, it does not apply to other immigrants or people seeking to become citizens.

You should remember that this article is not intended to provide you with legal advice; it is intended only to provide guidance about potential immigration policies. Furthermore, the article is not intended to explain or identify all potential issues that may arise in connection with representation before immigration courts, USCIS or ICE. Each case is fact-specific and therefore similar cases may have different outcomes.

I represent individuals in immigration cases. If you have any questions or concerns about an immigration case or potential case, you can call me at (315) 422-5673, send me a fax at (315) 466-5673, or e-mail me at joseperez@joseperezyourlawyer.com. The Law Office of Jose Perez has now moved and is located at 659 West Onondaga Street, Upper Level, Syracuse, New York 13204. Now with offices in Buffalo and Rochester!!! Please look for my next article in the November edition.

People coming the right way

¡Even Visas (people coming the right way) are in Decline under Trump Administration!
by Jose Enrique Perez

We have been writing about the new policies of President Trump against immigrants. It is definitely, in my humble opinion, a witch hunt against immigrants already here. Now, the numbers for the outsiders (immigrants) are out. They are also being hunted by the administration: Their applications for visas are being denied.

Even though some government officials are saying that the drop is only less than 5%, the real numbers show that it is more than 40%.

2018 (not even 2019) statistics show that the United States is becoming a less welcoming destination for foreign students. According to data from the State Department, the number of student visas issued annually for education in the United States fell from 677,928 in Fiscal Year 2015 (During Obama’s administration) to 389,579 in Fiscal Year 2018 (During Trump administration)—a decline of 42.5%. What makes up the difference? On Trump’s own word: He is the “least racist person in the world.” Right?!

This loss of human potential comes at a high cost to the United States. The 1.1 million international students studying in U.S. colleges and universities during the 2017-2018 academic year added $39 billion to the U.S. economy through tuition, room and board—and created or supported more than 455,000 U.S. jobs in the process. These figures don’t even begin to quantify the economic contributions that students go on to make after they graduate and enter the professional world. These include the invention of new technologies and the creation of new businesses.

Even the process of obtaining work authorization under the Optional Practical Training program, which allows students to work in jobs related to their major for one to three years after graduation, has seen recent lengthy delays. This has kept some students from working at all.

Of course, many Universities have written to Trump and Congress to do something about it. We must wait and see what will happen. A solution to some of these problems may be Congressional Action. For instance, just last month H.R. 1044: Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act of 2019 was introduced. We will write about it later.

You should remember that this article is not intended to provide you with legal advice; it is intended only to provide guidance about potential immigration policies. Furthermore, the article is not intended to explain or identify all potential issues that may arise in connection with representation before immigration courts, USCIS or ICE. Each case is fact-specific and therefore similar cases may have different outcomes.

I represent individuals in immigration cases. If you have any questions or concerns about an immigration case or potential case, you can call me at (315) 422-5673, send me a fax at (315) 466-5673, or e-mail me at joseperez@joseperezyourlawyer.com. The Law Office of Jose Perez has now moved and is located at 659 West Onondaga Street, Upper Level, Syracuse, New York 13204. Now with offices in Buffalo and Rochester!!! Please look for my next article in the October edition.

Expansion of Expedited Removal and Trump’s new rule

Expansion of Expedited Removal and Trump’s new rule that other Hispanic countries are deemed “Safe third countries”
by Jose Enrique Perez

Every month, new rules and new rules and new rules by this administration and everything is against immigrants. Some advocates are telling me, “this is exhausting!”. It really is, but we will keep fighting Trump’s racism. Whatever it takes! Immigrants are here to stay! This is our country too! We are not going back anywhere!

Expedited removal is when an immigration officer, without a judicial hearing or order of deportation, quickly deports immigrants who are undocumented. Expedited removal applies to individuals who are “inadmissible” to the U.S. because they either:

1. Lack valid documents showing they were authorized to enter the U.S.
2. Committed fraud or misrepresented a material fact to obtain admission, or
3. Falsely claimed U.S. citizenship.

Under the prior policy for years, ICE could only use expedited removal for individuals detained within 100 miles of the border and who had been in the country less than 14 days. Under Trump’s new policy, ICE can use expedited removal anywhere in the country (no need of 100 miles) and for anyone inadmissible and who cannot prove they have been in the country the last two years (not 14 days).

This new policy will lead to thousands more deportations and an increase in illegal deportations by ICE. Estimates place in at least 20,000 will be targeted for immediate action. They will be deported without a chance to have their day in court. No judge will rule about any potential relief. The immigration officer will make that determination without regard to any claims for relief, humanitarian reasons or otherwise.

Also, in July, the Trump administration passed a new asylum rule in an attempt to slow the flow of Central American migrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border. Asylum-seeking immigrants who pass through a third country en route to the U.S. must first apply for refugee status in that country rather than at the U.S. border. The rule basically means that Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Mexico or even Nicaragua are safe third countries in which immigrants who are crossing through in order to come to the United States, must apply for asylum there, or they will be denied asylum here.

The same day that the policy was going into effect, two separate Federal District Court reached different results. One enjoined the Trump administration from moving forward and the other allowed the Trump administration to apply the rule. We will have to see how appellate courts will solve the dilemma.

You should remember that this article is not intended to provide you with legal advice; it is intended only to provide guidance about potential immigration policies. Furthermore, the article is not intended to explain or identify all potential issues that may arise in connection with representation before immigration courts, USCIS or ICE. Each case is fact-specific and therefore similar cases may have different outcomes.

I represent individuals in immigration cases. If you have any questions or concerns about an immigration case or potential case, you can call me at (315) 422-5673, send me a fax at (315) 466-5673, or e-mail me at joseperez@joseperezyourlawyer.com. The Law Office of Jose Perez has now moved and is located at 659 West Onondaga Street, Upper Level, Syracuse, New York 13204. Now with offices in Buffalo and Rochester!!! Please look for my next article in the September edition.

The American dream and promise act

by Jose Enrique Perez

Last month, there was a lot of movement against the Trump Administration and in favor of the immigrants of this great nation.

Trump lost his attempt to include the citizenship question in the Census of 2020. He lost several battles in court to DACA recipients and TPS recipients. But more importantly, we heard about the passing of the American Dream and Promise Act.

Congress passed H.R. 6, the American Dream and Promise Act of 2019, a bill that would create a roadmap to citizenship for undocumented youth, immigrants with temporary protected status (TPS) and some whose deportations have been deferred. Why is this so important? Because it has been nearly 20 years since the first time we heard about DREAMERS. The first version of the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act was introduced in 2001. This is a milestone too because it is the first time in nearly 10 years since the last time the Dream Act passed through the House in Congress.

It’s hard to believe that the most inclusive immigration bill in years passed under the Trump administration, two years after Trump tried to end DACA, temporary protected status (TPS), and deferred enforced departure (DED) and unleashed a relentless campaign against immigrants and now has announced mass deportation.

The American Dream and Promise Act allows immigrant families to continue to live the lives they’ve built in the country they call home. All without harmful border enforcement provisions.

The act will make people eligible to obtain conditional permanent resident (CPR) status for up to 10 years, which includes work authorization. Under the terms of the bill, the Secretary of Homeland Security can issue waivers for humanitarian purposes, for family unity, or when the waiver is otherwise in the public interest. In addition, anyone who has DACA would be granted a swift path to CPR status.

What about Lawful Permanent Residence? Anyone who maintains CPR status can obtain lawful permanent residence (LPR status or a “green card”) by satisfying one of the following requirements:

  • Higher education: Has completed at least two years, in good standing, of higher education or of a program leading to a certificate/credential from an area career and
  • Military service: Has completed at least two years of military service with an honorable discharge; or
  • Work: Can demonstrate employment over a total period of three years.

Individuals who cannot meet one of these requirements can apply for a “hardship waiver” if the applicant is a person with disabilities, a full-time caregiver of a minor child, or for whom removal would cause extreme hardship to a spouse, parent, or child who is a national or lawful permanent resident of the United States.

What about becoming a citizen? After maintaining LPR status for five years, an individual can generally apply to become a U.S. citizen through the normal process.

Now we wait to see if the Senate passes the Act as well.

You should remember that this article is not intended to provide you with legal advice; it is intended only to provide guidance about potential immigration policies. Furthermore, the article is not intended to explain or identify all potential issues that may arise in connection with representation before immigration courts, USCIS or ICE. Each case is fact-specific and therefore similar cases may have different outcomes.

I represent individuals in immigration cases. If you have any questions or concerns about an immigration case or potential case, you can call me at (315) 422-5673, send me a fax at (315) 466-5673, or e-mail me at joseperez@joseperezyourlawyer.com. The Law Office of Jose Perez has now moved and is located at 659 West Onondaga Street, Upper Level, Syracuse, New York 13204. Now with offices in Buffalo and Rochester!!! Please look for my next article in the August edition.

TPS for Venezuelans? What is the VERDAD Act?

by Jose Enrique Perez

Since the beginning of this year, we have heard about Venezuela and its political crisis almost on a daily basis given that there is a new Interim President named Juan Guaido. On the background, politicians have been working on some measures to help Venezuelans currently in the United States.

The Venezuela TPS Act of 2019 is a bill in the current United States Congress presented by Rep. Darren Soto (D-FL) and Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL). It aims to extend temporary protected status to Venezuelan nationals in light of the 2019 Venezuelan presidential crisis and the crisis in Venezuela in general. It is important to keep in mind that this is a bill sponsored by both parties (bipartisan) and therefore has more potential to be passed.

Temporary protected status or “TPS” is a temporary immigration status to the United States, which will be granted to eligible Venezuelan nationals because they are temporarily unable to safely return to Venezuela due to the current civil and political crisis.

If approved by Congress, during the period of approval, TPS beneficiaries may remain in the United States and may obtain work authorization. However, TPS does not lead to permanent resident status or “green card” holder status. When the United States terminates the TPS designation, beneficiaries revert to the same immigration status they maintained before TPS unless that status had since expired or been terminated or to any other status they may have acquired while registered for TPS. We need to wait and see what happens in Congress.

There is also the VERDAD Act being considered. This Act, however, is not for help to Venezuelans in the United States. This will provide help to the Venezuelan people still in Venezuela. Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) are sponsors of this Act that was recently passed in the Senate Committee. It is also a bipartisan act. The Venezuela Emergency Relief, Democracy Assistance, and Development (VERDAD) Act, is a comprehensive effort to date to confront the crisis in Venezuela. The VERDAD Act drastically increases humanitarian assistance, expands current tools to address kleptocracy, formally recognizes and supports the Interim President of Venezuela’s efforts to restore democracy and prosperity in the country, and accelerates planning with international financial institutions to advance the country’s post-Maduro reconstruction.

We need to follow very closely the developments of these measures because it estimated that will help millions of Venezuelans both in the United States and in Venezuela.

You should remember that this article is not intended to provide you with legal advice; it is intended only to provide guidance about potential immigration policies. Furthermore, the article is not intended to explain or identify all potential issues that may arise in connection with representation before immigration courts, USCIS or ICE. Each case is fact-specific and therefore similar cases may have different outcomes.

I represent individuals in immigration cases. If you have any questions or concerns about an immigration case or potential case, you can call me at (315) 422-5673, send me a fax at (315) 466-5673, or e-mail me at joseperez@joseperezyourlawyer.com. The Law Office of Jose Perez has now moved and is located at 659 West Onondaga Street, Upper Level, Syracuse, New York 13204. Now with offices in Buffalo and Rochester!!! Please look for my next article in the July edition.

Enough is Enough: Stop Targeting Minorities for Marijuana arrests

by Maximilian Eyle

It’s 2019 and minorities are still being disproportionately targeted by the enforcement of marijuana laws. Because many states have legalized it, there is a misguided assumption that “people aren’t arrested for marijuana anymore”. This is patently untrue. Nearly 600,000 people were arrested in 2017 for marijuana possession. That’s one arrest every 48 seconds. Members of the black and Latino communities continue to be targeted by law enforcement at much higher rates than white people – despite equal rates of drug use. Part of the problem is that many voters today simply do not realize that this is still happening.

Whether or not you use marijuana, you should be concerned about the amount of lives destroyed by these arrests. Having a criminal conviction makes it very difficult to find a job, apply for a loan, or live in public housing. In cases involving marijuana, the arrest will almost certainly do more harm than the drug itself. Furthermore, a tremendous amount of police time and resources are spent handling these cases. Wouldn’t we rather that our police dedicated themselves to catching violent criminals rather than chasing a teenager who decided to smoke a joint?

10 states have legalized marijuana for adult recreational use, and 33 states plus Washington D.C. have enacted medical marijuana legislation. Despite this, the War on Marijuana is far from over. Tragically, it is still in many ways a War on Black and Latino people. The NYPD announced in 2014 that they would stop arresting people for “low level marijuana possession”, and yet from January to March of 2018 – there were nearly 4,100 arrests for marijuana possession. Of that number, 93% were black or Latino. This is indefensible.


Anyone following the development of drug policy over the past decade understands that the day is rapidly approaching when the federal ban on marijuana will be lifted. New York State is now surrounded by areas where marijuana is legalized, (Canada, Massachusetts, and Vermont so far). But this is little comfort to the many thousands of mostly black and Latino people who are still being locked up or at least harassed for marijuana charges. It’s time we let our politicians know that enough is enough.

Maximilian Eyle is a native of Syracuse, NY and a graduate of Hobart and William Smith Colleges. He works as a media consultant and writes each month about a variety of issues for Spanish-language papers across New York State. Maximilian has a love of Hispanic culture and learned Spanish while living in Spain where he studied and worked as an English teacher. He can be contacted at maxeyle@gmail.com.

Access to Visas: Mission Impossible

by Jose Enrique Perez

Many people come to the United States for different reasons. Family, business, pleasure and even for school. It has always been difficult to get a visa, however, now the Trump administration is making it impossible.

In 2017, about 3,000 visas were rejected. 2018, however, showed a significant increase. The State Department admitted that it had rejected 13,450 immigrant visa applications (not counting non-immigrant visas) in the fiscal year 2018 based on the possibility the applicants could become a “public charge” once they arrive in the U.S.

The rejections represent a 316% increase over the previous year, when only 3,237 immigrant visa applicants were turned away. Not only the Trump Administration is sweeping immigrants in the United States; now, he is also making sure people don’t come. That reminds me a heavily quoted statement made by the President when he was discussing TPS (Temporary Protected Status) when he said he did not want people coming here from “sh**hole” countries.

The spike in denials follows Trump administration changes to the State Department consular guidance. The changes broadened the scope of who could be refused a visa based on the likelihood the person may require public assistance.

In January 2018, the department instructed consular officers to consider the past or current receipt of any type of public assistance when deciding whether a person could become a public charge. Previously, the officers had been told only to consider two types of benefits: cash assistance or long-term institutionalized care paid by the government.

We cannot even imagine the consequences of a change in policy regarding public charge and applications for visa for immigrants and non-immigrants alike in the United States.

Internally in the United States, Trump’s proposed public charge rule, which was published in the Federal Register in October of 2018, would allow immigration officers to deny green cards to immigrants deemed likely to receive a wide range of government benefits. Additionally, the measure would subject temporary visitors to increased scrutiny. This proposal has received wide opposition not only from Democrats, but also from businesses, media, academia, immigrant organizations, among others.

You should remember that this article is not intended to provide you with legal advice; it is intended only to provide guidance about the new immigration policies. Furthermore, the article is not intended to explain or identify all potential issues that may arise in connection with representation before immigration courts, USCIS or ICE. Each case is fact-specific and therefore similar cases may have different outcomes.

I represent individuals in immigration cases. If you have any questions or concerns about an immigration case or potential case, you can call me at (315) 422-5673, send me a fax at (315) 466-5673, or e-mail me at joseperez@joseperezyourlawyer.com. The Law Office of Jose Perez is located at 120 East Washington Street, Suite 925, Syracuse, New York 13202. Now with offices in Buffalo and Rochester!!! Please look for my next article in the May edition.