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 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.

Enjoy Your Work Every Day

Vecinos: information and advice for our American communities

Enjoy Your Work Every Day

By Germán Velasco

Millions of people live uncomfortably every day working in the wrong job. Why do they cling to a job or a life that doesn’t satisfy them?
There is no one answer applicable to all cases, but I will describe factors that I frequently find in clients who have not been able to tolerate what they do every day while, at the same time, they feel they lack the strength to get out of the hole.
Two common factors stand out for me: the feeling of comfort and the feeling of familiarity with what they have been doing for years. These two anchors that tie us up in situations we would like to change are similar, but not exactly the same.
Both have immobilizing power. With greater familiarity usually comes greater comfort and ease in doing a job. But many times, the person is no longer comfortable and continues to cling to the routine for fear of venturing into unfamiliar terrain: Fear of the unfamiliar, the unknown. Fear of risk or discomfort involved in jumping to a different activity.
On the other hand, exploring a little more to find the life that best suits us can translate into feeling joy for what we do every day.
According to Steve Jobs, founder of Apple, “Your work will occupy a large part of your life, and the only way to be really satisfied is to do what you think is a great job. And the only way to do a great job is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it.”
Many people are trapped in the wrong life because of their commitment to staying in familiar territory. They may always live in the same city, spend time with the same friends, have their favorite places to eat or to have fun (and rarely consider new ones), use the same route on the way to work every day, not try new foods, etc. These little habits seem insignificant, but once we understand the effect of small routines, we can take action to strengthen our ability to change and become people capable of exploring unknown territories.
If you are having trouble making a big change in your life, I suggest you start introducing change in small ways. For example, travel more, change the décor in your house, go for a walk in an unfamiliar neighborhood in your city. Do something totally new every day – preferably something that makes you uncomfortable. Once you enjoy the options that life offers you in small things, you’ll open that door to big change, and you’ll be ready for the discomfort of the transition that comes with transforming your life. The grand prize is the happier life that’s waiting for you.

(Germán Velasco is the Executive Director of La Mano Amiga, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to providing informational resources to Latino immigrants.)

Take Care of Your Mental Health

Vecinos: information and advice for our American communities

Take Care of Your Mental Health

by Ellen Lee Alderton

When health threats such as AIDS, cancer, or diabetes receive so much public attention, you may not realize that mental illnesses are actually much more common than any of these other diseases. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, one out of five adults in the United States will experience a mental disorder each year. Conditions such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression, and anxiety can strike anyone at any time – regardless of how old you are, what country you come from, or how much money you have. It’s also important to remember that mental illnesses are no one’s fault; they are biological brain disorders.

The symptoms of mental illness can be devastating not only for those afflicted, but also for their family members and loved ones. Mental illnesses can strike their victims with delusions, hallucinations, panic attacks, or hopelessness and despair – causing suffering and disrupting lives.

Sadly, in the Latino/Hispanic community, this story can be even worse. Stressors such as leaving one’s country behind, leaving behind a situation of violence, not knowing the new culture, intergenerational tension in immigrant families, and poverty can all make mental health problems worse. For these reasons, the Department of Health and Human Services and the National Institute on Drug Abuse report that Latino/Hispanics in this country tend to experience higher rates of depression, distress, PTSD, substance abuse, and other mental health conditions.

But it’s important to remember that there’s hope. With the proper medical attention, mental illnesses can be treated – but they won’t go away by themselves. If you or a loved one is experiencing symptoms of a mental illness, it’s important to go see a doctor. A psychologist or a psychiatrist can prescribe medications or recommend a therapist to help with the problem.

Ana Lazu, a mental health promotora and one-time Executive Director of Latinos Unidos Siempre in Connecticut, says that when she began her own struggles with mental health problems, she faced a “double stigma.” There was the challenge of having a mental illness and the challenge of confronting this illness as a Latina. “Within the Hispanic community,” she says, there was the attitude that you don’t talk about psychology; you may go to your priest, family members or espiritista for help, but you would never visit a doctor or take medication.”

Yet visiting a doctor or taking medication can be life changing. In this month, as the United Nations recognizes World Mental Health Day, be sure to take care of your own mental health or the mental health of a loved one. If you need help, don’t try to go it alone.

(Ellen Lee Alderton is Director of Education for La Mano Amiga, a national nonprofit organization providing informational resources to Latino immigrants.)

Eyewitness to Gun Violence

Eyewitness to Gun Violence
by Miguel Balbuena

On Sept. 21 I went to Betts Branch Library, at 4862 S. Salina St., to see the movie “The Secret Life of Pets 2” on the big screen. The film started promptly at 2:30 p.m. and had a running time of 86 minutes. Then, taking advantage that it was still summer and the weather was nice, I decided to do a power hike from the Valley, the neighborhood where the library is located, to Cafe Kubal, at 401 S. Salina St., in downtown Syracuse in order to get on time before it closed at 7:00 p.m.

Approximately at 4:50 p.m., I heard “Pop, pop, pop!” in rapid succession as I was walking northbound on the sidewalk to the right, about half way down the 1800 block of South Salina Street, before its intersection with McLennan Avenue. Having been trained to shoot with rifles, pistols and other weapons in the Army Reserve for stints within four years, I knew these three loud noises could not have been caused by firecrackers. My conclusion was confirmed when I had a visual. I saw the passenger’s side front and back windows of a white sedan shattered and the driver bleeding and leaning unconscious onto the steering wheel.

The vehicle was coming out of the driveway of the apartment complex known as Ashley Arms when the motorist was hit. It seemed that his foot had kept pressing the gas pedal as the car, in slow motion, finished coming out of this driveway and got into the driveway across South Salina Street, where it was stopped when it collided with the front of a black pickup truck parked there.

I was the only pedestrian on the sidewalks of this block at the time of this incident and it appear to me that none of the occupants of the passing cars became aware of the shooting as they didn’t slow down, much less stopped. It seemed that the shots were fired from long range from a point behind my back, i.e., not
within my field of vision. At the time I wasn’t sure whether the perpetrator or perpetrators would keep on shooting or whether there were passengers in the car who would shoot back. Situational awareness advised me to stand still until it was not dangerous to proceed.

Another pedestrian walked southbound in a zombie-like state with her head looking down to
her smartphone screen. Nothing happened to her, which indicated to me in no uncertain terms that now it was safe to carry on with my business. Before long, four cruisers from the Syracuse Police Department, a truck from the emergency medical services of the Syracuse Fire Department and two vehicles from the
American Medical Response company showed up. One of them transported the victim, in critical condition, to Upstate Medical University Hospital.

Since I wasn’t able to see any detail that would have been helpful to the law enforcement officers, it would have been inappropriate for me to waste their precious time during this tragic moment. I am confident that ballistic and forensic analyses conducted by the Criminal Investigations Division of the SPD would provide it with more relevant information.

The night before I witnessed the shooting, I had watched two movies back to back: “Rocketman” and “Shaft.” “Rocketman” was about the life and career of musician Elton John; “Shaft” was about the exploits of trigger-happy vigilante John Shaft, who left in his wake plenty of shattered glasses, blood and gore, and other outcomes of gratuitous violence.

The scene on South Salina Street reminded me more of “Shaft” than of “Rocketman,” with the difference that it didn’t appear to be the effect of the action of a vigilante. Instead, it has the markings of yet another round of the turf fight being waged between rival gangs for control of distribution territory on Syracuse’s South Side.

South Salina Street is a teeming thoroughfare in Syracuse and, as such, it stands to reason to view it as one of the safest places in town. Nonetheless, on Sept. 10 and Feb. 18 three people in total were shot on its 2000 block, near Wood Ave., two blocks down the location of latest incident. A male was injured in last year’s attack; a man and a woman were injured in the one five months later. The woman died in a hospital as a result. Then, on May 22 a female was shot on the 4300 block of South Salina Street.

About the author: Miguel Balbuena is a writer in the academic, scientific, journalistic and literary fields (in the fiction and non-fiction genres).

Something Exciting is Happening in the Race for County Executive

Something Exciting is Happening in the Race for County Executive
by Maximilian Eyle

The position of Onondaga County Executive is one that people rarely talk about. Since 1962, there have only been three elected County Executives despite the fact that an election is held every four years. Time and time again, the incumbent wins without much of a fight. The current County Executive, Republican Ryan McMahon, was appointed without an election. He is being challenged by a new face in local politics – Tony Malavenda. One thing is certain: the results of the election this November will have major consequences for our county.

If you aren’t sure what the County Executive is, or does, you aren’t alone. But their role is incredibly important. They help manage the county budget, they oversee all county departments and agencies, and they can veto county laws. You could describe it as being the mayor or president of Onondaga County.

The son of Italian immigrants, Tony Malavenda grew up in Syracuse in a working-class household. As a young man, he started his own business with a friend and began traveling all around the United States. Their company was called Dukes Root Control and specialized in removing tree roots from municipal sewers. It quickly grew from a local business to a national brand. Working in this field gave Malavenda firsthand experience in seeing how different counties across the country function, and inspired him to want to improve things at home. “Other communities adapted to economic change and we did not,” said Malavenda in an interview, “And the fact that we didn’t adapt is why we haven’t prospered.”

Central New York has a lot to offer, argues Malavenda, but we have been struggling to make use of our resources and grow as a community. “The current system works very well in maintaining the status quo,” he says. “Many of the infrastructure problems we face now were the same in the 1970s when I was growing up.” Malavenda hopes to start making actual progress on these longstanding issues like cleaning up Onondaga Lake, limiting tax breaks to large companies, and starting construction on the community grid redevelopment for I-81. “When we built that highway overpass 60 years ago,” said Malavenda, “we destroyed a neighborhood and became a more segregated city. Today we have the highest concentration of minority poverty of any city in America, and the highway has a lot to do with that.” If he wins, Malavenda would be the first Democrat to be elected to County Executive. His primary goal is to make our county government work more efficiently for its residents by improving the delivery of services and rebuilding the crumbling infrastructure.

Because Malavenda has lived a private life up to this point, building name recognition has been a challenge. But his campaign has caught the attention of the press and in September, he released a series of television ads outlining his plans for Onondaga County. He has also been active at community events, and many families have hosted open houses as a platform for neighborhood residents to ask him about issues directly and hear him speak. At a recent event on the east side of Syracuse, Malavenda responded to a question about his reasons for running: “I know my opponent has larger political ambitions beyond serving as County Executive. For me, I am already 62 and look forward to retiring after my time in office. I just want a chance to give back to the community I’ve lived in my whole life.”

This article was written and edited by Maximilian Eyle who 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

Good News for Furry Animals

by Linda DeStefano
Translated by Rob English

According to the Sept./Oct. 2019 issue of ALL ANIMALS, there is good news in the ongoing battle to free animals from being killed for their fur. More and more designers are rejecting animal fur and using other materials. These materials are becoming easier for the designers to work with and, in some cases, more environmentally friendly – some being made from recycled plastic. Currently, research is being done on making “fur” from plants.

Other advantages are that they are less expensive and easier to maintain than animal fur, and they are warm, and stylish.

Best of all, these products save animals from the excruciating pain of being caught in a steel jaw, leg hold trap before being bludgeoned to death. The animal may be struggling for days before the trapper checks his traps. Perhaps suffering even more are the foxes and other animals who are kept in tiny, filthy cages with no veterinary care until they endure anal electrocution to obtain their fur.

On the legislative front, West Hollywood, Berkeley, San Francisco and Los Angeles have all banned the production and sale of animal fur, and the New York City Council has considered a ban.

As an individual, you can help by avoiding any animal fur – even fur trim. Garments are supposed to be labeled as animal fur or faux fur but this isn’t always reliable. You can examine the material the “fur” comes out of to make sure it is woven fabric and not skin.

If you want to read the entire article, go to

If you want to grapple with the issue of our responsibility to animals, come to a free People for Animal Rights talk, short film and discussion on “Moral Responsibility Toward Animals as Reflected in the Major Religions of the World” at 7 p.m. on Mon. Oct. 21 at Onondaga Free Library, 4840 W. Seneca Turnpike, Syracuse (Onondaga Hill).

Linda is President of People for Animal Rights (PAR). For more information about PAR and a sample of our newsletter, contact us at PAR, P.O. Box 15358, Syracuse, NY 13215-0358, or call us at (315)488-PURR (7877) between 8 a.m. and 10 p.m. or email us at

My go-to book: “Seven Spiritual Laws of Success.”

by Aixa G. López

Go for it!

I love reading. I have always loved the ability to learn about other people’s ideas, experiences, successes, and challenges. I love reading non-fiction books because they seem more real to me.

Over the years, I have read plenty of books, but for some reason, there is one book I always go back to, especially when I feel unbalanced in my life. No, it’s not the Bible. I wish it were, but even when I like reading the Bible, it’s a little bit complicated sometimes. When I feel unbalanced, I like straight forward and simple things to learn.

I bought this book in 1997 just before moving from Puerto Rico to Upstate NY. I was in a pharmacy store and saw this thin, small, and cheap book that caught my attention. I bought it and started reading it. I liked the introduction and told my husband about it. At that time, he was not an avid reader, so I asked him if he minded listening to me reading the book out loud so I could share the information with him. It seems odd, but he agreed. Night after night we sat down, and I read it out loud.

This book’s name is the “Seven Spiritual Laws of Success” by Deepak Chopra. What this book states challenged my life and personality in so many ways. I am a very driven person, and I grew up believing that I could control my present and my future. I wanted the world to think the way I thought, and I believed that because something was the “right thing to do,” it was evident to everyone.

These seven laws sometimes don’t make sense to us (at least they didn’t make sense to me) because they are based on ideas and concepts that are not popular in our society. Concepts such as “Least Effort”, “Giving”, “Detachment”, and “Purpose”. I have to admit that these laws were tough for me to swallow and still are.

Let’s start with the First Law: The Law of Pure Potentiality.

The First Law is about our existence. It says that each of our actions is based on our ego and our ego is our self-image. That means that if we think we are shy, we will behave that way. If we believe we are confident, that’s the way we will act. If you feel you are better than others, your actions will be based on that. That’s pretty obvious. However, we are so much more than what we think we are.

Our true-self (not our self-image) is our spirit, our soul and it is completely free of our ego (like when we are children). It is immune to criticism, it is fearless of any challenge, and it feels beneath no one. Moreover, it is also humble and feels superior to no one, because it recognizes that everyone else is the same “Self,” the same spirit in different disguises.

When we feel better than someone else because we are smarter or have more power or more money, that feeling is based on something external. The book describes this as “object-based” power.

That is very interesting because as soon as you lose that object, then who are you? If you lose the money or you meet someone smarter, how do you feel? Light Bulb Moment, isn’t it?

Silence is one of the best ways to get in touch with your true self. Being in silence and not reacting to everything has helped me meditate on what my ego “wants to do” versus what my true-self “should do.” Of course, I forget about this sometimes, especially when someone does something I don’t like.

I read this book when I was in the process of moving the first time to Upstate NY in 1997. At that moment I was not working, and I was spending much time at home; time to think and meditate. I can say those years were the happiest years of my life. We had NOTHING!

We didn’t own a house, we only had one car, we didn’t have any money in the bank, I wore clothes and shoes from bargain stores, our dining-out was pizza, and I used coupons to buy everything. Well, we had our true-selves, and we were delighted. I have videos and videos of those times, and I can see the pure potentiality in all of us.

I encourage you to read this book. Cheers to your “True-Self”!

Aixa G. López, P. E. is a Consultant, Leadership Development, Digital Marketing, Organizational Process Improvement living in the Elmira, New York Area. She is a strategically minded, analytical Industrial Engineer with 27+ years of experience providing operations management, organizational process improvement, leadership & team development, and digital marketing. She has been recognized for improving organizational effectiveness and efficiency through leadership, aligning business processes to realize cost savings and revenue growth. She’s an industrial engineer who entered the field because of her passion for fixing things. As a columnist for CNY Latino, Aixa shares with the readers this passion and the lessons she has learnt along the way.