NEW JERSEY, United States—For many Filipino immigrants, applying for a US permanent residency is tough as it is.
With a recent policy change under the administration of President Donald Trump, obtaining a green card or permanent residency just got tougher for those who may be deemed a public charge or public liability.
Immigration lawyer Michael Gurfinkel said applicants for permanent visas who fail to meet income standards or applicants who received public assistance could be rejected.
"Public charge means if a person receives certain public benefits during a 12 month period within the past three years, the Trump administration also expanded the list of benefits that a person applies for or received would make them a public charge," he said.
Among the items considered as public benefit in the Department of Homeland Security's revised definition of public charge are supplemental security income, temporary assistance to needy families, food stamps from the federal SNAP program, government-run health program Medicaid and subsidized housing.
"In the past, if a person had applied for and received those benefits they would not have been considered a public charge, now they may which would disqualify them from receiving a green card, possibly," Gurfinkel added.
For some Filipinos in New Jersey, they believed this policy change is at the center of Trump's efforts to reduce family-based legal immigration, especially for applicants coming from poor countries.
"It’s difficult enough to just come into the US and to give another aspect of difficulty to that policy eh 'di kawawa naman talaga for Filipinos who come to the US," said Lorena Mcrae of Migrante International, a global alliance of Filipino workers overseas.
Jersey City council president Rolando Lavarro said elderly Filipinos, especially war veterans applying for green card, are among those likely affected by the new policy.
"Now we’re saying, if you’re too poor, you’re not welcome here... A lot of immigrants have come here to this country, including Filipinos, through the process of family reunification," he said.
"We’ve never had a litmus test around the idea whether you’re able to pay your own way. It basically allows only the richest be able to come," he added.
If not in challenged in court, this policy change will take effect October 15.
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