Fabiola Santiago

Executive order eliminating immigrant benefits would shock, distress South Florida

Protesters at FIU decry President Trump's immigration policy

A group of protesters demonstrated against President Donald Trump's immigration policy at Florida International University on Feb. 1, 2017.
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A group of protesters demonstrated against President Donald Trump's immigration policy at Florida International University on Feb. 1, 2017.

The wall along the border with Mexico isn’t the only one under construction orders.

The immigration ban isn’t limited just to refugees from seven Muslim-majority countries.

No, President Donald Trump hasn’t backed down on his radical campaign promises. He’s just delivering them in one shocking executive order after another.

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer talked about updates to President Donald Trump's immigration executive order during Wednesday's press briefing. According to Spicer, legal permanent residents will now be allowed to enter the United States w

There’s a lot more walling off of immigrants from the rest of the U.S. population to come from Donald Trump’s administration, according to drafts of a new immigration executive order leaked to The Washington Post and Vox.com and making the rounds in Washington.

The order would essentially erect a financial wall around immigration — and it would hurt not only would-be immigrants, but legal immigrants already in the country and the U.S. residents and citizens helping them get here.

You know that brother you brought from Cuba — signed his visa petition, pledged to sponsor him — then sent on his merry way to carve a new life in the United States?

The Trump administration thinks he’s your burden, not that of the American taxpayers, and they’re going to make you, the sponsor, pay for all of his expenses until he can become the ideal self-sufficient immigrant. So long to the public benefits that legal immigrants are now allowed to access.

Start praying that your loved one doesn’t fall on hard times or require medical care not covered by insurance — just two scenarios that could send anyone into bankruptcy. If you’re the immigrant’s sponsor, the financial responsibility for his misfortune wouldn’t only be the immigrant’s but yours, too. Sponsors now sign an affidavit of support, but it is rarely enforced.

If Trump signs the executive order, only U.S. citizens wealthy enough to support relatives — through good times and bad — would be entitled to family reunification. Who else can foot a hospital bill that in this country runs into the thousands of dollars the moment you walk in? What if the immigrant loses a job and needs to ask for cash assistance? The sponsor would have to provide the help, not the government.

As for immigrants already here, a history of using welfare would be grounds to deny residency or citizenship. Deportation costs would fall on the shoulders of the immigrant or the sponsor. As Vox.com summed up the executive order: “Build a wall around public benefits, and make immigrants’ relatives pay for it.”

The White House won’t confirm or deny the existence of the executive order, but the draft is in circulation among administration officials, according to the Post. Written in memorandum form by Andrew Bremberg, assistant to the president and the director of the Domestic Policy Council, it clearly spells out that only the wealthy need apply.

Only people well-heeled enough to support themselves — or with the connections and ability to quickly become established and instantly join the American middle class — would be able to obtain visas to come into this country legally.

Any sponsor of an immigrant who seeks welfare benefits would have to reimburse the government for the costs the immigrant is incurring. The measure gives a whole new meaning to being responsible for not just your children but other adults. Who can control the decisions people make down the line after they’re in this country?

If this executive order becomes reality, the shock and distress in immigrant communities like Miami’s would be unfathomable. The implications for legal residents and U.S. citizens hoping to reunite with family members are far-reaching and unpredictable. But a predictable outcome would be more people living in the shadows and working in underground economies for survival.

This policy-making, based on misplaced blame and fear, is another Machiavellian move to create division and mistrust by demonizing all immigrants as welfare-dependent and cheats. But studies done to address immigration reform show that immigrants are a big part of the economic engine that drives this country, and in fact, natives and immigrants complement each other in the workforce.

But immigrants don’t seem to catch a break under Donald Trump’s watch. And with this order, we’re not created equal, even after we’re residents and citizens.

Lady Liberty, who’s that?

Lifting up the poor and compassion are words exiled from the American vocabulary in Trumplandia.

Only faked perfection and personal wealth — lots and lots of money to pay for the high price of a dignified life in America — are allowed.

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