US To Deny Citizenship To Immigrants Who Use Public Benefits

In May, US President Donald Trump announced a broad plan for immigration “that protects American wages, promotes American values, and attracts the best and brightest from all around the world.”   Photo: Nicholas Kamm / AFP

 

The administration of US President Donald Trump announced Monday new rules that aim to deny permanent residency and citizenship to migrants who receive food stamps, Medicaid and other public welfare.

The change threatens to set back the citizenship hopes of millions of mostly Hispanic migrants who work for low wages and depend in part on public services to get by.

It also appeared to close the door for impoverished and low-skilled migrants outside the country hoping to legally obtain a foothold in the United States.

Announcing a new definition of the longstanding “public charge” law, the White House said hopeful migrants will not be granted resident visas if they are likely to need public assistance.

In addition, those already here and using public services will not be able to obtain green cards or US citizenship.

“To protect benefits for American citizens, immigrants must be financially self-sufficient,” Trump said in a White House statement.

Rules could impact millions

The ruling could impact many of the 22 million non-citizen legal residents of the country, and the estimated 10.5 million unauthorised immigrants, most long-term residents in both groups.

It immediately was thrown into question by pro-migrant activists planning to sue and from Democrats in Congress who said they would fight it.

“This administration scapegoats immigrants, emboldens white supremacists, and tears families apart. This is racist policy. We will continue fighting to #ProtectFamilies,” tweeted Representative Donna Shalala.

The White House said “large numbers” of migrants “have taken advantage of our generous public benefits, limited resources that could otherwise go to vulnerable Americans.”

It said half of all non-citizen households include at least one person using Medicaid, the government-run health program, and that 78 percent of households led by a non-citizen with no more than a high school education use at least one welfare programme.

“Through the public charge rule, President Trump’s administration is reinforcing the ideals of self-sufficiency and personal responsibility, ensuring that immigrants are able to support themselves and become successful here in America,” said Ken Cuccinelli, acting Director of US Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Children mostly unaffected

Cuccinelli said that the new standards would be used to judge non-citizen residents who use public services repeatedly after October 15, 2019.

The services that count against an applicant include federal, state and local cash and income assistance, food stamps from the federal SNAP program, Medicaid, and subsidized housing.

Cuccinelli stressed that the new rules did not apply to public assistance programs for children or pregnant women or emergency room care.

As for hopeful immigrants, they would have to demonstrate the ability to live in the United States without resorting to public assistance.

Changes planned since 2018

The changes to the “public charge” rules have been in the works since 2018, as part of Trump’s campaign to slash both legal and illegal immigration.

In May, Trump announced a broad plan for immigration “that protects American wages, promotes American values, and attracts the best and brightest from all around the world.”

“As a result of our broken rules, the annual green card flow is mostly low-wage and low-skilled,” he said.

He said the newcomers “compete for jobs against the most vulnerable Americans” and weigh heavily on welfare programs.

“We’re not able to give preference to a doctor, a researcher, a student who graduated number one in his class from the finest colleges in the world — anybody.”

‘Dire humanitarian impact’

In a study last month, the Urban Institute said the new regulations, when proposed last year, were already driving immigrant families to curtail their use of public services.

Some were pulling out of the SNAP program, leaving them with “insufficient resources for food and adequate nutrition.”

In addition, staying away from Medicaid “put people in a position of forgoing treatment for chronic conditions and preventive medical care.”

The National Immigration Law Center announced Monday that it would sue to block the implementation of the new rules, calling them a “racially motivated policy.”

“This news is a cruel new step toward weaponizing programs that are intended to help people,” said Marielena Hincapie, NILC executive director.

“It will have a dire humanitarian impact, forcing some families to forego critical life-saving health care and nutrition. The damage will be felt for decades to come.”

AFP

Trump Plans To Scrap U.S. Citizenship At Birth

In this file photo taken on October 27, 2018, US President Donald Trump speaks with reporters before departing for a rally in Murphysboro, Illinois. Nicholas Kamm / AFP

 

President Donald Trump plans to abolish the right to citizenship for anyone born in the United States — guaranteed by the 14th Amendment to the US Constitution — with an executive order, he said in an interview excerpt released Tuesday.

While Trump asserts that he can change the provision with such an order, that is far from certain: there is a set process for modifying the constitution, which does not include presidential decree.

His comments come shortly before a hotly-contested midterm election in which the president has sought to place the issue of immigration front and center.

“It was always told to me that you needed a constitutional amendment. Guess what? You don’t,” Trump said in an interview with Axios. “Now they’re saying I can do it just with an executive order.”

The president’s opposition to the constitutional provision centers specifically on the fact that children born in the US to immigrant parents — whether they are in the country legally or not — are automatically citizens.

“We’re the only country in the world where a person comes in, has a baby and the person is essentially a citizen of the United States for 85 years with all of those benefits. It’s ridiculous. It’s ridiculous and it has to end,” he said.

Trump said he had spoken to legal counsel about it and that the change is in the works.

“It’s in the process, it’ll happen — with an executive order.”

AFP

Rescued Cave Footballers Granted Thai Citizenship

Twelve Thai boys and their football coach, rescued from a flooded cave after being trapped, attend a press conference in Chiang Rai on July 18, 2018, following their discharge from the hospital. LILLIAN SUWANRUMPHA / AFP

 

Thailand Wednesday granted citizenship to stateless members of the football team rescued from a cave last month in a saga which gripped the world.

The story of the “Wild Boars” club has dominated headlines since the 12 boys and their 25-year-old coach went exploring in Tham Luang cave on June 23 and were trapped deep inside by rising floodwaters, setting off an international search dubbed “Mission Impossible”.

They spent nine days inside subsisting on rainwater from rocks before being located. Days later they were extracted in a complex operation in which they were sedated, carried and stretchered out of the waterlogged passages.

Thailand is home to around 480,000 stateless people, according to the UN refugee agency. The long-ignored issue came into focus during the rescue mission when it was revealed that four of those trapped inside lacked citizenship, prompting calls for the government to fast-track applications.

“Today all of you get Thai citizenship,” Mae Sai district chief Somsak Khanakham said in a ceremony on Wednesday at a local office, as they were handed national ID cards.

Somsak told AFP that the “Wild Boars incident” had nothing to do with the development and said they had merely qualified.

But the event was advertised proudly on the local government’s Facebook page with the words: “Wild Boars revel! Got Thai citizenship.”

Many of Thailand’s stateless people are from nomadic hill tribes and other ethnic groups who have for centuries lived around the borders of Thailand, Myanmar, Laos and China.

The family of one of the four footballers granted papers, Adul Som-on, is from Myanmar’s Wa State, a self-governing region.

Weeks after the rescue, interest in their ordeal is still strong and Hollywood-style production houses are racing to take the story to the big screen.

But authorities have asked media to keep their distance while the teammates readjust to normal life, and avoid touching off lingering trauma.

The dangerous rescue brought all 13 members of the team to safety. But a former Thai Navy Seal diver died while installing oxygen tanks in preparation for the extraction.

Eleven of the boys and their coach recently entered a monastery for several days to ordain and “make merit” according to Buddhist ritual for Saman Kunan.

AFP

India Strips Four Million Of Citizenship

 

India on Monday effectively stripped four million people in Assam of citizenship, sparking fears of mass deportations of Muslims from the northeastern state.

The draft National Register of Citizens (NRC), published on Monday, includes only those able to prove they were in Assam before 1971 when millions fled Bangladesh’s war of independence into the state.

Critics say it is the latest move by the right-wing government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to advance the rights of India’s Hindu majority at the expense of its many minorities.

More than 30 million people had applied to be included on the list, of whom just over four million were excluded from the draft published on Monday, said Shailesh, the registrar general of India, who uses one name.

“No genuine Indian citizens need to worry as there will be ample opportunities given to them to enlist their names in the final NRC,” he told a news conference in Assam’s biggest city Guwahati.

He said those wishing to appeal could do so under “well-laid-down procedures” starting August 30. The definitive NRC is due to be finalised in December.

“We are going to provide assistance to anyone whose names are not included in the document and whoever wishes to file a claim and objection in this regard,” Shailesh added.

 Hindu nationalists 

Modi’s Hindu nationalist government — under whom extremist violence against Muslims has increased — has said the list must be revised to root out illegal migrants.

Hundreds of thousands fled to India from Bangladesh during its 1971 war of independence from Pakistan. Most settled in Assam, which shares a long border with Bangladesh.

Rights groups have criticised the government’s latest move, saying the deletion of people from citizenship rolls was similar to Myanmar’s removal of rights and protections for its Rohingya community in 1982.

Avaaz, a US-based rights group, said Monday there was no effective appeal body and those left out would not have enough time to present their case.

“It’s just Muslims who will likely have to go through a complicated, unfair appeal with no right to counsel, ending in no hope of staying if they lose,” Ricken Patel, the executive director of Avaaz, said in a statement.

Assam, a state of 33 million people known for its lush tea estates, has for decades been racked by violence between indigenous tribes and settlers.

In one of the worst massacres, around 2,000 suspected migrants were butchered in a single day in Nellie in 1983. Nearly all were Muslim, and many were children.

In New Delhi, Home Minister Rajnath Singh also sought to allay fears about Assam.

“No coercive action will be taken against anyone. Hence there is no need to panic,” Singh said in the upper house of parliament.

Satyen Garg, a home ministry official who was present at the Guwahati press conference, said there “was no question of sending anyone to detention camps based on the draft list.”

AFP

Macron To Honour Malian Who Saved Child

French President Emmanuel Macron (L) speaks with Mamoudou Gassama, 22, from Mali, at the presidential Elysee Palace in Paris, on May, 28, 2018.  Thibault Camus / POOL / AFP

 

The young Malian migrant who saved a four-year-old child hanging from a fourth-floor Paris balcony after scaling the facade with his bare hands will be made a French citizen, President Emmanuel Macron said Monday.

Mamoudou Gassama, who met with Macron after a video of his rescue went viral on social media, will also be offered a place in the fire brigade, the president added.

AFP