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Discussion Points for Punto Legal—August 07, 2019

contextual

1. Public Charge.

We expect that a new restrictive rule on public charge will be implemented any day now for immigrants fixing their papers in the United States. The Department of Homeland Security will adopt a more aggressive public charge analysis to evaluate applications for green cards. President Trump is making life more difficult for working-class immigrants.

2. What is a public charge?

Immigration law says immigrants and visitors to the United States can be turned away if they’re likely to become a public charge after admission. The phrase "public charge" isn’t defined in the law but it is understood to refer to people who were primarily dependent – or likely to become primarily dependent – on cash assistance or long-term, institutionalized care. In other words we are talking about poorer people.

In January 2018, the State Department changed its rules for public charge about two years ago. The number of permanent visa refusal at the U.S. Consulate in Ciudad Juarez skyrocketed. Between Oct. 1, 2018 and July 29 of this year — a period of 10 months–the State Department denied 5,343 immigrant visa applications for Mexican applicants on the ground that the applicants were so poor or sick that they risked becoming a "public charge." That’s up from just seven denials for Mexican applicants in fiscal year 2016, the last full year under former President Barack Obama. The number of public charge denials for applicants from all nations also rose during the past year.

But, let’s look at Canada. Only three Canadian immigrant visa applicants were refused on public charge grounds in fiscal 2018. A single applicant from that country was denied in fiscal 2016.

The new public charge rule applicants for permanent residence is expected to affect 400,000 immigrants.

3. Immigrants and Social Media.

Many of you have Facebook accounts and are big users of social media. Did you know that immigration officials are now looking at your Facebook page when you apply for a benefit? Do you have photographs on Facebook of you and a gun? Do you have photos on Facebook show drug use? If you are seeking an immigration benefit, make a point of cleaning up your Facebook page and other social media.

4. Parole in Place ("PIP").

There were rumors out of Washington several weeks ago that the Trump Administration was going to cancel the "parole in place" or PIP program for spouses and parents of members of the military. The rumor has quieted down. My best guess is that Parole in Place will survive. But, for the first time, the immigration is requiring PIP applicants to appear for an interview in Denver.

5. El Chapo coming to Colorado.

El Chapo is in Colorado. As you know, El Chapo was sentenced to life in prison last week. The Bureau of Prisons put him in the federal super-max prison in Florence, Colorado. At the Supermax, prisoners spend 23 hours per day in single, soundproof cells made of poured concrete. You have no idea where they are within the prison.