When the coronavirus has hit the residents of USA, Daphne and Alex were among the millions of suddenly unemployed. Prior to that Daphne was preparing for a new job at a local theater in Colorado, and her husband Alex worked as a freelancer in graphics and worked as a Barista, tells NPR. The bad news was compounded by the concern: is it safe to apply for unemployment benefits if one spouse is an immigrant?
Alex is American, but Daphne from Germany. The publication uses the names without surnames, as the pair waits until the U.S. government decides whether to grant Daphne green card. This piece of paper turns it from a temporary visitor, a foreign student to a permanent resident of the United States, giving it the right to work and live with her husband in the United States.
This pair was among a half-dozen of those whose history has collected NPR: stories about legal workers, immigrants, people earning a living and paying taxes in the United States, but still fear that unemployment benefits could jeopardize their immigration case. Some waited for their first green card; others extended the residence permit or were going to become citizens.
“I see that many customers are entitled to unemployment benefits, are simply too afraid of him to ask,’ said new York immigration lawyer Cui Yi. — Whether [unemployment] somehow become a red flag for immigration? Since started COVID, this question arose repeatedly”.
At the heart of these concerns lies new administration’s policies trump, which is often called the rule of “public burden”: the immigrant can be difficult (or impossible) to obtain permanent resident status, if the impression is that it may need state aid.
“I’m tired of the fact that our taxpayers are paying for people to come into the country and immediately went to social security and other things”, — the President said trump, presenting a new rule in August.
But unemployment is not a social payment. It’s insurance, the cost of which is borne by the workers and employers, not taxpayers. A representative of citizenship and immigration said the United States NPR that unemployment is “earned allowance” which is not taken into account when considering criteria for “public burden”.
In fact, the rule of “public burden” is not aimed at those who are applying for renewal of a green card or for citizenship, said the lawyers of the immigration service. It is about people first applying for a green card. Yi urged the concerned immigrants to seek assistance to lawyers, if they doubt of their protection in the event of the benefit.
Trump administration has consistently sought to restrict immigration in the United States, making more and more changes in the rules. Workers say that many things which had not taken into account, are now taken into account when considering their immigration cases.
“I don’t apply for unemployment benefits. I don’t want to do it now, ‘ said the holder of a green card Rita who works and lives in California for several years. Like many, Rita and her husband lost his job during a pandemic. I’m telling you, I’m afraid.”
Rita came to the United States from Guatemala to study film and acting. She is waiting for the renewal of his green card, hoping to apply for citizenship. She was concerned that unemployment benefits will look like Rita asks America’s money.
“I had prepared myself and came here legally, she said. I’m not here in order to use it.”