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 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.

A Reflection about SOMOS

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.

The Smart Vote

by Juan Carlos “Pocho” Salcedo

Between 2018 and 2019 more than 75% of the countries in the Americas will have had national, legislative or primary elections. It is essential for the participation of the voters to have a genuinely democratic process. In the same way, it is critical to have informed voters. Otherwise, the democratic process would be a mere formality.

To explore this very important connection in a democracy, we have talked with one of the most prominent non-profit organizations in the work of reporting in a neutral and objective manner the positions of each candidate; but not only that, also to follow up and see if those political positions have been constant or if they have changed or evolved.

Pocho Salcedo internationalist (Twitter @pochosalcedo)

Oswego’s Lizette Alvarado named SUNY Hispanic Leadership Institute fellow

by SUNY Oswego Office of Communications and Marketing

Lizette Alvarado of SUNY Oswego is one of 14 leaders from across the state recently named to the second-ever class of fellows at SUNY’s Hispanic Leadership Institute by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Associate director of Oswego’s Office of International Education and Programs, Alvarado was one of 14 SUNY leaders announced in January as part of the 2019 class for the institute, which is charged with developing and supporting the next generation of executive-level Hispanic/LatinX leaders across the SUNY system.

Lizette Alvarado.
SUNY Oswego

“We do have a shortage of Latinos in leadership positions,” said Alvarado, who came to SUNY Oswego in 2001 as a study-abroad program coordinator. “I’m very humbled by this leadership development opportunity and eager to represent the interests of Latino leaders throughout SUNY, as well as the college.”

Alvarado already has begun working with the Hispanic Leadership Institute (HLI) and the other fellows. Meetings at SUNY’s SAIL (Strategic, Academic and Innovative Leadership) retreat in the Carey Institute in Rensselaer recently kicked off an intensive six-month experience of in-person and independent learning activities designed to support the fellows’ leadership growth.

“New York is strongest when we celebrate our diversity, and with programs like the Hispanic Leadership Institute, we can support some of the most dedicated leaders across the SUNY system,” Governor Cuomo said. “Congratulations to the incoming class of Fellows who will no doubt take the skills and knowledge they gain through this program to make a positive impact throughout the state.”

‘Prestigious, worthwhile’

That’s the goal for Alvarado and SUNY Oswego, said Joshua McKeown, associate provost for international education and programs.

“I nominated her for this prestigious and worthwhile program based on many years as her colleague and supervisor,” McKeown wrote in a letter of support for Alvarado’s fellowship. “Lizette is a hard-working and conscientious person. She believes in herself and the power of both education and study abroad. She has risen steadily over her career to the position of associate director in my department, and this opportunity is coming at an ideal time for her.”

McKeown noted Alvarado has not previously had the kind of leadership development experience that HLI provides, though she has demonstrated the capacity to lead for years, including developing the college’s much-honored “I, Too, Am Study Abroad” program and other efforts to diversify the study-travel population and their experiences.

“I would like for her to grow and develop professionally so as to help SUNY Oswego and our department, and also take that next step personally toward becoming an ever-stronger leader and colleague,” he wrote.

Though she has experience in administration and supervision, Alvarado said her initial encounter with the fellows showed that “this experience is more personal. You have to dig deeper to define who you are and where you want to go both personally and professionally.”

In her role at Oswego, Alvarado coordinates semester and summer programs in Ghana, Japan, Latin America, South America and Spain. She also provides leadership in the campus’ effort that provides opportunities for more than 400 students to participate in over 80 academic programs in 30 countries.

Success story

The daughter of migrant workers, Alvarado was born in the United States, but her parents returned to their native Puerto Rico before coming back to live in the Fulton area when she was 13. “I had no words in English,” said Alvarado. “An ESL (English as a second language teacher) helped us out. It took me a year to a year and half before I felt comfortable speaking.”

Alvarado went on to graduate from Oswego High School, SUNY Cortland and, with a master’s degree in cultural anthropology, from University at Buffalo.

The HLI offers six- and 12-month fellowships to SUNY Hispanic/LatinX faculty and staff in leadership positions throughout SUNY, including provosts, chief academic officers, chief business officers and others.

The fellows will attend a mid-term gathering in Albany this April and a closing retreat at SUNY’s Executive Leadership Academy in New York City in June. Additionally, they will attend group videoconferences to discuss articles and emerging issues, and undertake a scholarly/applied-learning project that supports their development as a leader in higher education.

For more information about international education and programs at SUNY Oswego, visit

PHOTO CAPTION: ‘Humbled, eager’ — Gov. Andrew Cuomo named Lizette Alvarado, associate director of SUNY Oswego’s Office of International Education and Programs, one of 14 Hispanic Leadership Institute fellows for 2019 from across the State University system.

The Spanish translation will be provided in the April edition of CNY Latino newspaper and here, check back with us the first week of April 2019…

La traducción al Español será publicada en la edición de Abril del periódico CNY Latino y aquí, regrese la primera semana de Abril 2019 para leerla…

To Empower Women

A Mission to Empower Women
by Luisa Diaz Brown

Former Ms. Venezuela International, Luisa Diaz Brown, is pleased to announce her return to the pageant stage for the first time in 20 years for a very good cause. Mrs. Diaz Brown’s passion and commitment to empowering women has motivated her to accept this invitation as Mrs. Cosmopolitan in the 2019 Mrs. New York America Pageant. This pageant honors and celebrates married women of New York, their families, and their communities. It will take place on March 31, 2019 at the RIT Inn & Conference Center in Rochester, New York.

Since winning the Ms. Venezuela International crown in 1999, Mrs. Diaz Brown has built a successful career in the entertainment industry while always striving to empower women. She founded the Mi Amor Gala, a fundraising event she hosts in partnership with Safe Passage, a nonprofit whose mission is to help women who have been victims of domestic violence. In 2017, Mrs. Diaz Brown wrote and self-published her first book, Sexy Is Timeless: Ten Timeless Sexy Assets That Lie within You. In this empowering guide, she discusses ten assets that every woman naturally possesses and can use to fully realize their self-worth.

By participating in the Mrs. New York America pageant, Mrs. Diaz Brown plans to continue her legacy of empowering women of all ages. She says, “This opportunity will provide me with an additional platform to bring my organization to a larger audience, where I can continue to voice my message of transforming women from the inside out. Becoming Mrs. New York America would allow me to continue spreading my message about how women should never forget how beautiful and worthy they are. When you empower women through bettering their education and building their self-esteem, you are in turn empowering their family, friends and community as well.”

Luisa Diaz Brown has always used her voice to encourage and support women in everything she has done throughout her career. Her passion and dedication to her community is what makes her an exceptional candidate for the 2019 Mrs. New York America Pageant.

For more information, visit

You can hear more about Luisa and her story in a Spanish interview on Wednesday, March 13 at 5:30 pm in the radio program “Hablando con Central New York” conducted by Marisol Hernández, broadcasting from the studios of the WVOA station in Syracuse (NY), through the Radio 87.7 FM station, LIVE on the Internet, broadcasting from the website

Should Puerto Rico Become a State?

by Maximilian Eyle

Puerto Rico has a confusing relationship with the rest of the United States. It is classified as an unincorporated territory, not a state. While this offers certain advantages, it also comes with a high cost. For example, Puerto Ricans do not have to pay federal income tax. However, they can only vote in presidential primaries – not in general elections for the federal government. This means that they do not have voting representation in congress. But because Puerto Ricans are U.S. citizens, they can vote if they move and become residents of a U.S. state.

There is currently a bill in congress to make Puerto Rico a state, introduced by Rep. Jennifer Gonzalez – Colon, Puerto Rico’s non-voting federal representative. About half of Americans agree that Puerto Rico should be made a state. This number grew after Hurricane Maria due to increased sympathy for the island. Unfortunately, a similar percentage of Americans do not even know that Puerto Ricans are U.S. citizens.

Many of Puerto Rico’s political leaders, including the governor, support statehood. Many federal representatives from around the United States do as well, including Rep. Nancy Pelosi. However, the people of Puerto Rico are more divided. A recent poll showed that only about half support statehood, though it is the most popular option. The remaining half is divided between remaining a territory, achieving independence, and simply not having an opinion.

The discussion about PR’s future as a state or a territory remains controversial and may not be resolved soon. What we can agree on is that the current relationship between the island and the federal government is a problematic one. The aftermath of Hurricane Maria proved that. Whether or not Puerto Rico becomes a state, it is imperative that we strengthen the bond between the island and the rest of the U.S.

What do you think? Write in with your opinions to

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