The Golden Door: October 2018


Legal and Policy Issues

We are closely monitoring state and federal immigration law and policy. Please check our social media accounts for more frequent updates.

Call To Action -- Comment Against The Public Charge Rule

The Trump administration published its proposed "public charge rule" changes on October 10. We should be defined by how we contribute to our communities, not by how much money we have. However, the Trump administration's proposed changes to the so-called "public charge rule" would ensure that only wealthy immigrants could build a future in the United States. We still have a chance to make our voices heard, but the clock is ticking. 

"Public charge" is a test to see if someone is likely to become dependent on specific government programs. The government uses this test when someone applies for a family-based green card or certain visas. Right now, when deciding if an intending immigrant might become a "public charge" in the future, the government looks at whether he/she has received cash assistance (like TANF or SSI), or government funded long-term care. This proposed rule would add non-emergency Medicaid, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Medicare Part D Low Income Subsidy, and housing assistance, such as public housing or Section 8 housing vouchers and rental assistance - but only for these benefits received by the applicant.

The proposed rule adds a "heavily positive" factor of an intending immigrant's household income of at least 250 percent of the Federal Poverty Level. This means a family of 4 might need to earn nearly $63,000 annually to rebut negative factors under the public charge test. The proposed rule adds a lot of so-called "negative" factors that would count against the intending immigrant, including not speaking English, having a disability, or having children.

We have sixty days to comment, and the last day is December 10. You can comment through, and keep your eyes on for Maine-specific model comments. An email reminder will go out in mid-November. Make sure you personalize your comment, because the administration has to consider each and every unique comment the public makes against this proposed rule.

Court Win for TPS Holders from El Salvador, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Sudan

Earlier this month, a federal judge issued a preliminary injunction stopping the Trump administration from ending Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for El Salvador, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Sudan.

The judge found that the government provided no explanation or justification for ending the programs for those countries. He further found sufficient "evidence that President Trump harbors an animus against non-white, non-European aliens which influenced his (and thereby the Secretary's) decision to end the TPS designation[s]."

TPS was set to end this Friday (November 2) for Sudan and January 5, 2019, for Nicaragua. Today, the government automatically extended employment authorization for TPS recipients from Sudan and Nicaragua through April 2, 2019. 

TPS holders have lived in Maine for sometimes decades and many have US citizen children, work, and are an integral part of our communities. While this order is an important moment, it is still temporary. The only way to truly fix TPS is by Congress enacting legislation that provides TPS holders a pathway to permanent status.

Call our congressional delegation and demand a pathway to permanent status for TPS holders!

Senator Susan Collins (202) 224-2523
Senator Angus King (202) 224-5344
Representative Chellie Pingree (202) 225-6116
Representative Bruce Poliquin (202) 225-6306

More Inhumane Actions At Southern Border

Proposed Rule Flouting Flores Agreement

When the administration enacted its "zero tolerance" family separation policy in April, you may remember hearing about something called the "Flores Settlement Agreement." The Flores Agreement is a judicial settlement dictating standards concerning the treatment of children in immigration custody, and preventing children from being jailed for more than 20 days.

In order to get around the Flores Agreement, the Trump administration has proposed a rule that would allow the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to operate their detention centers under standards that DHS sets for itself. The proposed regulation would dismantle the current "Flores" standards, allowing for the indefinite detention of immigrant children and families, including asylum seekers. The proposed rule also eliminates due process rights for detained children to have a hearing in front of an immigration judge.

The government will be accepting comments until November 6, 2018. You can comment through these organizations:

OR you can comment directly through the regulation website:

President Trump Sends Thousands of Troops to Southern Border

By sending 5200 (at latest count) troops to the border, the administration is manufacturing a crisis to create fear, increase division, and stoke anti-immigrant sentiment. Families fleeing violence should not face armed soldiers as they enter a strange and unfamiliar country seeking safety. Using the military to confront vulnerable asylum seekers is against everything the United States should stand for.  


Administration Considers Separating Families Again

After its disastrous, illegal, and inhumane family separation "zero tolerance" policy ended earlier this year, the administration is now considering a so-called "binary choice" option for families seeking asylum at the border. Under this program, parents would be forced to choose to either be detained with their children throughout their immigration proceedings or to send their children to a shelter where they could be released to a sponsor.

Families seeking asylum are fleeing violence in their home countries. These families are not "loopholes." If the administration forces parents to make this horrific choice, we must speak up just as we did during the "zero tolerance" policy.