This week, we read about the damage of the public charge rule and the impact of deportation on Guatemalan nationals. 

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1. Low-Income US Immigrant Families Avoided Benefits During Pandemic Over Immigration Fears, Study Finds — Wednesday, May 26

In 2020, over 25% of low-income immigrant families did not seek help during the pandemic. They were afraid that it would have a negative impact on their status. The number was even higher (43.9%) among families with non-permanent resident adults. 

These statistics show the legacy of the public charge rule. The rule started under the Trump administration and ended early in the Biden administration. The rule required green card applicants to give very detailed financial information. It also complicated things for immigrants who applied for or accepted public benefits. The Trump administration said the rule would reduce costs for US welfare systems. In reality, immigrants are only qualified for a very limited number of programs in limited circumstances.

The problem is that the public charge rule created widespread fear. Many immigrants did not apply for programs they qualified for. Some immigrants were afraid to use their own health insurance.Many parents did not seek food support or healthcare for their children out of fear. We were very glad to see the end of the public charge rule. We hope that the Biden administration will continue to make positive changes.

“Many immigrant families with children avoided assistance even as they were experiencing hardships such as food insecurity, financial difficulties, and problems accessing needed health care.”

—Jennifer Haley, research associate at the Urban Institute

2. Guatemalan lives upturned by failed immigration bids — Thursday, June 3

60% of Guatemala lives in poverty. Systemic issues in the region make it very difficult for families to break that cycle. Like immigrants from all over the world, many Guatemalans come to the U.S. to find a better life. Violence and poverty force many of them to risk everything they have to get here. Many put their land and homes up as collateral to pay smugglers and coyotes to bring them to the US. Many of them have no other choice. If they don’t make it to the US, they can lose everything and have nothing to return to. 

This article tells Alvina’s story. She risked everything to find a better life in the US, but got deported. Her story is all too common. Since 2015, over 228,000 Guatemalans were deported from the US. Many were left with feelings of failure and debt they can’t pay back.

The COVID-19 pandemic has only made matters worse. Many Guatemalans who were deported got COVID-19 while they were in the US. In April 2020, the Guatemalan Health Minister said that on one deportation flight, 75% of the passengers tested positive for COVID-19. Most Guatemalans do not have access to adequate healthcare or vaccines. This put a lot of stress on the Guatemalan healthcare system and created a very risky situation for deportees.

Vice President Kamala Harris is traveling to Guatemala. She will meet with leaders to discuss the root causes of migration from Guatemala. They will also discuss protections for groups that have faced discrimination. This includes indigenous people, LGBTQ+ people, and Afro-descendants. 

“Anyone who has the opportunity should go. Migrating isn’t easy; you put yourself in danger. But there is need.”

—Adán Rivera, a 40-year-old farmworker

“[Debt] is what makes you desperate enough to migrate. It’s pure necessity.”

—Alvina Jerónimo Pérez

Thank you for taking the time to read this week’s ‘News Review’ from McEntee Law! Want daily immigration news updates? Follow us on Twitter.

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