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.

The diplomatic siege around Venezuela

by Juan Carlos “Pocho” Salcedo

We seek to understand the role of Colombia in the Venezuelan crisis. This is not a bi-national scenario, but rather a multilateral one. Colombia has inserted itself as the central axis of the diplomatic siege on the Maduro regime.

There are domestic reasons such as stopping the massive influx of Venezuelans to Colombia. However, Bogotá sees a far-reaching future role, possibly to be the leading partner of the United States to unseat powers such as China, Russia and their allies in Latin America.

Today we have a Colombian internationalist with excellent credentials to address this complex issue.

Juan Carlos “Pocho” Salcedo Internationalist @Pochosalcedo

See full interview here: https://youtu.be/0eYUQRenuh4

Brexit and chaos

by Juan Carlos Salcedo “Pocho”

The expression of the will of the people translated into referendums has its consequences. In Europe, for almost three years a country with an important democratic tradition is still looking for the formula to bring the popular vote of a referendum into an actionable retirement agreement of the European Community.

The United Kingdom, in one of its most important decisions since the Second World War, decides the future of many of its generations.
The new nationalist trend throughout the world shows us that we are entering a time of troubled waters, and a reflection if globalism was what everyone expected at its inception.

The British professor and analyst Han Dorussen explains the problem.

Juan Carlos Salcedo Twitter @Pochosalcedo

See the full interview here: https://youtu.be/wkBIYHhhemg

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.

17 years of war

A view from inside Kabul, Afghanistan 17 years of war
by Juan Carlos Salcedo

Afghanistan is a mountainous country in Central Asia with a history and a culture that goes back more than 5000 years. Today, Afghanistan is in a disastrous state: the economy is in ruins, its people are dying of war and famine, and its neighbors are taking advantage of its instability. There have been 3 great world powers that tried unsuccessfully to exercise their power through occupation. The last version was and is the USA in the war against the Taliban from 2001 to the present day.

This time we have a special guest, who will help us understand Afghanistan with Afghan eyes, from Kabul Afghanistan Abdulah Ahmadzai.

See the full interview here: https://youtu.be/3aVWXAnjn1A

A Reflection about SOMOS

Politics
by Andres Aguirre

The 2019 SOMOS Conference marked my first return to Albany in about five years. I’ve never had a bad experience when I’ve gone up to the Capitol, and this was no exception. I was able to meet a multitude of elected officials, attend various educative workshops, and network with countless amounts of young politically active students like myself.

This year, the Conference’s theme was “We Are Dreams Come True”, in celebration of the passing of the New York State DREAM Act. It was incredible to see so many students, past and present, all gathered in the same place to finally be able to commemorate their work over the past 8 years.

Now, I am not a Dreamer. I was born in the United States and as a result did not have to struggle like they did. It breaks my heart to hear some of the stories that have resulted of the DREAM Act being stalled on for so long. Some undocumented students, because they had no access to aid or loans, simply could not afford to go to college anymore and dropped out without much of a choice. To finally see all of their advocacy finally payoff is a feeling that is surely indescribable. And, as a result, it gave me great joy to be able to witness such a historic event.