Tag Archives: Refugee

Public Charge Is a Public Attack by Trump Administration

International students at risk of being deported, H1-B visa bans, and the pressing change in public charge all have one thing in common – they are targeted towards immigrants. 

It feels like a car crash caused by a distracted driver, with the wreckage laid bare on the road, making way for those with sturdier vehicles.

While the rest of us are putting on masks with trepidation, dousing our hands in sanitizer, and cautiously going to the grocery store, the Trump Administration’s public charge measure is making its mark on access to social services and the rise of minority deaths during the pandemic. 

Luvia Quiñones of the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, explains during the June 26th EMS Briefing on strategies for keeping immigrant families safe, that the last time a change was made to public charge was in 1996. The current ruling gives permission to immigration officials (ICE) to predict, based on current income, skills, and assets, if the green card or visa applicant will potentially end up relying on the government for benefits. And if so, their application will be rejected.

Luvia Quiñones speaking at the EMS briefing on 6/26/20

The pointed measure barring immigrants from coming to the US and becoming citizens, also ensures that immigrants currently in the States are in constant fear. 

Dr. Daniel Turner-Lloveras, Harbor UCLA Medical Center and frontline doctor for COVID-19, reminds us that, “We need to stop detaining immigrants in general”. Why? While USCIS has stated that they will not arrest any undocumented immigrants seeking COVID related help, Dr. Turner-Lloveras questions the intent.

“Do you think suddenly people would come to get care? Especially when they’ve been afraid for years?”

Hospitals and government organizations cannot be the ones to deliver COVID testing and related care to disenfranchised populations. The distrust of our administration, and rightly so, is increasing the risk of transmission and death related to coronavirus. Dr. Turner-Lloveras advocates for emergency health care in community clinics – a solution to the language barrier and scare tactics employed by ICE. 

Exacerbating the disproportionate deaths of marginalized communities in America are the detention centers for immigrants. Detention centers, on average, are high density and unhygienic, with a lack of access to healthcare and basic needs. But compounded with the pandemic, the dialogue must include the rampant medical abuse in such facilities. Detention centers place immigrants in high-risk situations beyond their control.

Image is taken from Freedom for Immigrants.

Yet, this is not where the anti-immigration policies end. The “Remain in Mexico” Program has displaced asylum seekers awaiting trial in the US court system, into high-density housing in unfamiliar territory and isolated their family – a human rights violation and a public health hazard.

The Trump Administration challenges immigrant safety and well being from two angles: policies preventing immigrant stake in the country and access to healthcare and benefits.

Public charge threatens an immigrant’s capacity to stay in the country and potentially apply for Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, disability insurance, unemployment, any government subsidies. Dr. Turner-Lloveras reports that one in ten Latin American families apply for housing subsidies and one in three Latin American families avoid healthcare; these are the same families that are displaced, frontline staff and require assistance.

Connie Choi, Campaign Field Manager & Strategist at the National Immigration Law Center, provides some hope on the federal level, championing undocumented and immigrant rights on the Congress floor. NILC lobbied for the House to pass the Heroes Act, expanding benefits to the undocumented and other non-citizens, which passed on May 15th, 2020. However, this piece of legislation is currently being held up on the Senate floor. Choi urges constituents to call their senators and encourage them to prioritize the Heroes Act and to halt public charge.

For those that will be directly impacted by public charge, Madison Allen, Senior Policy Attorney at CLASP, clarified what is available for immigrant families to protect them during this turbulent time.

If you have a social security number, you can apply for cash assistance, SNAP, Emergency Medicaid, and unemployment insurance without impacting your public charge determination.

For those undocumented, you can apply for Pandemic EBT if you’ve lost free or reduced meals provided for your child by the school. Community health clinics will be providing testing and care for COVID; make sure to check their availability first. All children, regardless of status, are eligible for Medicaid; your child’s Medicaid will not be used to examine your immigration status.

Check your state and localities for benefits being applied by area and district. California Governor, Gavin Newson, implemented the California Disaster Assistance Program for undocumented populations. Through the program, each family can get $500 in direct assistance per person and $1000 per household.

All sources for help are linked within the article.

The wreckage is not a lost cause. I don’t see a totaled car. I see an unhinged door, a broken side mirror, a detached bumper. Focused intent and continuous pressure on our legislators can repair the damage. Our sources of strength lie within our community and with those that resonate with the immigrant plight. So, let’s get to it. As Lin Manuel Miranda raps in the Broadway musical Hamilton, “Immigrants, we get the job done!”

Srishti Prabha is the Assistant Editor at India Currents and has worked in low income/affordable housing as an advocate for children, women, and people of color. She is passionate about diversifying spaces, preserving culture, and removing barriers to equity.

Update on the Future of Immigration Reform

Update on the Future of Immigration Reform

SPEAKERS ON THE NATIONAL BRIEFING 

Sameera Hafiz is the ILRC’s Senior Policy Strategist based in Washington, DC.  Sameera, who began working at the ILRC in 2017, leads ILRC’s advocacy and engagement on federal immigration policy.  Sameera brings nearly two decades of experience supporting campaigns and coalitions focused on racial justice, fighting harsh immigration enforcement policies and ending violence against women.  Prior to joining the ILRC, Sameera was the Advocacy Director for the National Domestic Workers Alliance where she led the organization’s anti-trafficking and immigration policy work, as well as the legal team.  Previously Sameera served as the Director of Policy and Campaigns at Rights Working Group, a national coalition addressing racial profiling and other human rights violations affecting communities of color in the US.  Sameera was also a Senior Staff Attorney with the Legal Momentum Immigrant Women Program, where she advocated with legislators and executive agencies for policies supporting the needs of immigrant survivors of gender-based violence.   Prior to that, Sameera represented individuals before Citizenship and Immigration Services, immigration judges and the Board of Immigration Appeals with the Legal Aid Society of New York and she began her legal career at Safe Horizon, representing survivors of human trafficking and domestic violence in family and immigration matters.

Angelica Salas, Since becoming CHIRLA’s executive director in 1999, she has spearheaded several ambitious campaigns locally, state-wide, and nationally. She helped win in-state tuition for undocumented immigrant students and established day laborer job centers that have served as a model for the rest of the nation. She led efforts to allow all California drivers to obtain a driver license and is a leading spokesperson on federal immigration policy as an active member of FIRM and RIFA. Under Angelica’s leadership, CHIRLA and its partners across the country have built the foundation for the recent upsurge in immigrant rights activism.  As part of a national coordinating committee, Angelica helped convene a coalition of organizations in California which have successfully mobilized millions of immigrants to demand comprehensive immigration reform including legalization with a path to citizenship, family reunification, and the protection of civil and labor rights.

One of Angelica’s greatest accomplishments at CHIRLA has been the transformation of a coalition of social service providers into an organization that empowers immigrants to engage in advocacy on their own behalf. In this respect, she has blazed a pioneering trail among immigrant coalitions around the country and has propelled other immigrant rights groups to follow her lead.  In March she walked along thousands in the annual Selma to Montgomery March. She comes by her understanding of the immigrant experience firsthand. As a five year old, Angelica came to the U.S. from Mexico to rejoin her parents who had come to the U.S. to find work and better provide for their family.

Zahra Billoo is a civil rights attorney and the executive director of the San Francisco Bay Area chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR). At the onset of 2017, Zahra joined the speaker lineup at the Women’s March on Washington and sued Donald Trump to challenge his “Muslim Ban” Executive Orders. In the course of her work at CAIR, Zahra is frequently seen at mosques and universities facilitating trainings and workshops as a part of CAIR’s grassroots efforts to empower the American Muslim community and build bridges with allies on civil rights issues. She also provides direct legal services for victims of law enforcement targeting and Islamophobia. Her work has been highlighted in local and national media outlets including the Christian Science Monitor, KTVU, MSNBC, NPR, and the San Jose Mercury News.

Among her awards and recognitions, Zahra has received the 2017 Human Rights Award from the Society of American Law Teachers, the 2014 Unsung Hero Award from the Nationals Lawyers Guild San Francisco Bay Area Chapter, and the 2013 Trailblazer Award from the South Asian Bar Association of Northern California.

A proud graduate of California’s public universities, Zahra graduated Cum Laude from California State University, Long Beach with degrees in Human Resources Management and Political Science. While in college, she held various leadership roles both at campus and state-wide advocacy efforts for college affordability and social justice. She also worked with the California Faculty Association. She earned her J.D. from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law, and is licensed to practice law in California. Outside of her work with CAIR, Zahra bakes birthday cakes for foster children through Cake4Kids and is a coordinator for Project Feed, a monthly homeless feeding effort in downtown San Francisco.

Adoubou Traore is a native of the Ivory Coast and the former Executive Director of African Immigrant and Refugee Resource Center (AIRRC) in San Francisco, CA.  Adoubou is a former recipient of the British Council Scholarship in 1990 and the Fulbright Scholarship in 2000-2002. He speaks French, English, Spanish, Senufo, and Bambara. He obtained a Masters of Arts in English from San Francisco State University (SFSU) in 2002. Adoubou supervises AAN program staff by providing direction, input and feedback, communicates with clients and other stakeholders to gain community support for the program and to solicit input to improve the program, liaises with other managers to ensure the effective and efficient program delivery, and coordinates the delivery of services among different program activities to increase effectiveness and efficiency. In addition to his management duties, Adoubou assist clients with legal consultation, legal counseling and legal processing. Adoubou also does document translation and interpretation in asylum office.