Philippine church body issues US migrant warning

New rule could prevent immigrants accessing important medical and social services
Philippine church body issues US migrant warning

In this June 2018 file photo, members of the clergy from different denominations hold hands as they stage a protest in front of the Federal Building in Los Angeles California against hard line immigration policies. (Photo by Frederic J. Brown/AFP) reporter, Manila
United States
September 27, 2018
A Catholic Church body in the Philippines has warned Filipinos in the United States not to jeopardize their immigrant status after the American government announced plans to limit immigrant access to public benefits.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security revealed on Sept. 22 a proposed policy wherein immigrants who legally use public benefits like food aid or public housing could be denied U.S. green cards.

"It's disheartening news and could cause difficulties for our immigrants," said Bishop Ruperto Santos of the Episcopal Commission on Migrants and Itinerant People of the Philippine bishops.

The prelate, who is a member of the International Catholic Migration Commission, advised Filipino migrants to remain "law abiding, hardworking and helpful."

Philippine migrant organization, Migrante International, said the proposal was "cruelty and injustice at the highest level."

"It is akin to ordering immigrants to leave the U.S. or starve to death," the group said in a statement.

Immigrants and their families will be affected if the U.S. implements the proposed policies.

In a statement, the U.S. Catholic bishops said the policy would likely prevent families from accessing important medical and social services vital to public health and welfare.

"This further compounds strict eligibility guidelines already in place preventing many immigrants from receiving federal aid," the American bishops said in a Sept. 23 statement.

They said the proposals will be "very harmful to families" and could cause fear among immigrant families.

The Department of Homeland Security said the proposed move would define "long-standing law" to make sure that those who want to enter and live in the U.S. can support themselves financially.

The new rule will not affect immigrants who already have green cards but will be a cause of concern for students, workers, and holders of temporary visas who want to stay in the U.S.

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