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Saturday, September 24, 2022

UF students react to Trump’s wealth test for immigrants

<p>President Donald Trump waves from the top of the steps of Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base in Md., Friday, Jan. 31, 2020. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)</p>

President Donald Trump waves from the top of the steps of Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base in Md., Friday, Jan. 31, 2020. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

When Jordan Grana heard about the recent changes in U.S. immigration policy, he immediately worried about his cousins. 

The 27-year-old UF first-year law student’s cousins entered the U.S. from Cuba roughly two years ago on work visas. But because of their reliance on welfare to afford food and rent, their path to citizenship could be more difficult than it has been in the past.

On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court approved the Trump administration’s plan to increasingly deny permanent resident status to immigrants who would depend on public assistance. The rule only applied to immigrants who required monetary assistance but has now been expanded to immigrants who need non-cash benefits such as Medicare.

“These changes will directly hurt them [my cousins] and probably make the already very difficult and very stringent process to get a green card hard for them,” Grana said.

Grana, the son of Cuban immigrants, said he wouldn’t be in the U.S. if it wasn’t for the relatively easy path to citizenship granted to Cubans during Fidel Castro’s dictatorship.

“I just don’t understand what kind of logical basis there could be for enforcing this kind of rule,” he said.

Philip Smith, on the other hand, views the regulation as beneficial to the American people.  

The 22-year-old UF agricultural operations management senior said he believes the U.S. should invite high-skilled immigrants to fill open positions so employees and businesses can profit.

“It’s important to make sure that people who are coming into this country aren’t going to just fall back on our programs to sustain them,” Smith said.

Valentina Franco, a 23-year-old UF second-year law student and president of the UF Immigration Law Association, believes the rule will shut out refugees from Venezuela and Central America while instilling fear in immigrants already in the country.

“The most serious implication of this is that it misinforms people, and people are not going to seek the help they are entitled to,” she said.

Franco, who immigrated with her family from Colombia when she was young, said she found great pride in becoming a naturalized citizen.

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She said only wanting “the best and the brightest” is not the purpose of immigration.

“It goes directly against the entire institution of giving people asylum and giving people an American dream,” Franco said.

Contact Samantha Chery at schery@alligator.org. Follow her on Twitter @SammyChery4276.  

President Donald Trump waves from the top of the steps of Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base in Md., Friday, Jan. 31, 2020. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

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