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Court approves punishment of immigrants, except in New York, Vermont and Connecticut

Immigrants applying for “green cards” will have to pass a new USCIS screen.

Photo: John Moore / Getty Images

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) received from the Second Circuit a new endorsement to apply the public charge rule to immigrants who request social assistance at the national level, except Vermont, Connecticut and New York.

Through the Citizenship and Immigration Services office (USCIS) the punishment of immigrants may be implemented, but the judges kept out the three states that filed a joint lawsuit, led by the attorney general Leticia james.

In Vermont, Connecticut, and New York, immigration officials must continue to apply the public charge guidance that was in effect prior to the effective date of the new DHS definition, which began to be implemented on February 24, 2020.

The new provisions, which failed to be stopped in the Supreme Court, significantly increase the scrutiny of foreign nationals to establish that they will not become a “public charge” of the United States Government during the adjustment of status applications or Permanent residence, as well as requests for extension of stay and change of nonimmigrant status.

It should be remembered that there is a similar rule of the Department of State, which applies in consulates, but there is a separate lawsuit on that decision, so the current determination of the Second Circuit does not affect that process.

DHS is expected to issue guidance regarding the filing of immigration applications affected by the new court order deemed limited, that is, how it will be applied.

It is also recalled that a court prohibited the application of the rule in Illinois.

The new decision of the Second Circuit ties with that of the Fourth Circuit in Virginia, where last week the rule was also endorsed.

The judges determined that the Immigration and Nationality Law (INA) says that any alien who is “likely at any time to become a public charge is inadmissible,” something that must be enforced by DHS.

Lawyers have explained that the provision of the Government of President Donald Trump is more complex than the simple punishment for using social benefits, such as Medicaid, food stamps and housing support, since it considers various aspects to determine if a person is eligible to obtain an immigration benefit.

How applications will be evaluated

Experts highlight six aspects of how DHS evaluates immigrants, to prevent them from being a burden to the Government:

1. Public aid.- People who receive welfare benefits for 12 months in a three-year period, such as Medicaid, food stamps, or housing support.

2. Age.- It will be taken into account if the immigrant is a minor and who supports that person, also if they are older than 62 years.

3. Health.- Immigrants with chronic diseases, such as a heart problem, could face problems, especially if the health insurance they receive is subsidized.

4. Studies.- The officers will evaluate the educational level of the person, as well as their level of English, to consider them positive or negative factors.

5. Financial statements.- Immigrants’ assets will be reviewed, as well as the money they have saved and family income.

6.- Work.- Those people who have not had, for example, a job in the last two years could face problems.