Can you navigate Trump’s public charge rule when seeking admission to the U.S.?

The eye-catcher ….

The Department of Homeland Security issued a final rule last August that appears designed to push President Trump’s preference for merit-based immigration, versus family-based allowances that have fed the political right’s assertions that the United States should focus on allowing only highly skilled or well capitalized individuals into the country.

In addition to the preferred economic benefits stemming from admission of the highly skilled or highly capitalized immigrant, there are the political benefits from appeasing Mr. Trump’s base who hold the belief that the U.S. should limit competition for American jobs or head off any threats to American culture, the American way of life.

Four major points of the new rules, set to go into effect October 15th, comprise its rationale.  They are:

  1. To ensure aliens entering the U.S. are self-sustainable.
  2. To ensure aliens can rely on employment, family, or private organizations for their support versus benefits received from government agencies.
  3. To provide financial consideration in the form of a bond to be tendered to the U.S. government where an immigrant has exceeded the maximum amount of benefits allowed in a twelve-month period.
  4.  To make non-immigrant applicants for change in status ineligible for extended stay where an immigrant violate a public benefits threshold.

In short, an immigration officer may declare you as not eligible for admission if you are likely to be a public charge.

What are the public benefits immigrants risk losing?

A public charge is an individual who receives one or more designated public benefits for more than 12 months in aggregate, within any 36-month period.  A public benefit includes the following:

  1. Cash benefits for income maintenance.
  2. Supplemental security income.
  3. Temporary assistance for needy families.
  4. Supplemental nutritional aid.
  5. Most forms of medicaid.
  6. Certain housing programs.

Excluded from public benefits are:

  1. Benefits received by individuals serving on active duty or the ready reserves.
  2. Benefits received by certain international adoptees or children acquiring U.S. citizenship.
  3. Medicaid for aliens under the age of 21 or pregnant women.
  4. Medicaid for school-based services.
  5. Medicaid benefits for emergency services.

The rule would not apply to humanitarian-based programs for refugees, asylees, immigrant juveniles, certain trafficking victims, victims of qualifying criminal activity, or victims of domestic violence.

Where an immigrant is deemed inadmissable based on public charge grounds, the immigrant could be offered the opportunity to post a bond at a minimum of $8,100.

How does the immigrant get around the “public charge” barrier?

Are you likely to become a “public charge” when you present yourself at an American  port of entry?  You want the answer to be “not likely.”   An immigration officer determining whether you are eligible to enter the United States will consider, at a minimum, the following:

  1. Your age.
  2. Your health.
  3. Your family status.
  4. Your assets.
  5. Your resources.
  6. Your financial status.
  7. Your education and skills.

In addition, your affidavit of support, a statement indicating the level of support you expect from a family member or other sponsor, should provide that your sponsor can maintain your support at 125% of the poverty level.

The takeway: Be prepared …

The current administration is attempting to make good on its promise to tighten restrictions on immigration.  By rule, an immigration officer determining whether you are eligible for entry into the United States must take into account the totality of circumstances surrounding your ability to be admitted.  The existence or omission of one factor is not enough to deny admission.

You should assess your totality of circumstances before your attempt to enter the United States.  This is where I can help you make the assessment and increase your chances of entry.  Feel free to contact me at


Birthright citizenship on the USVI: Argument in Equity

The eye catcher ….

The immigration debate, specifically the debate on birthright citizenship in the United States has disproportionately focused on immigrants from Mexico and Central America.  Conservative commentators have been making the argument that immigrants from these areas should not be using the births of their children on American soil in order to secure residence in the United States.

Conservatives also appear to be making the argument that both immigrant parent and their children are disqualified from citizenship because they are subject to the jurisdiction of the immigrant birth parent’s native country.

The law ….

Citizenship is defined in the 14th Amendment of United States Constitution as follows:

“All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and the State wherein they reside.”

According to 8 U.S. Code Section 1401(a), an individual is a national and citizen of the United States when that person is “born in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof.”

For individuals born in the Virgin Islands of the United States, 8 U.S. Code Section 1406(g) says the following:

“All persons born in the Virgin Islands of the United States on or after January 17, 1917, and prior to February 25, 1927, and subject to the jurisdiction of the United States are declared to be citizens of the United States as of February 25, 1927, and all persons born in those islands on or after February 25, 1927, and subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, are declared to be citizens of the United States at birth.”

and why wouldn’t a child born of immigrant parents be subject to the U.S.?

Again, the catch phrase here is “subject to the jurisdiction of the United States”, and my question is, why would conservative commentators believe a child born in the United States to immigrant parents be anything else but subject to U.S. jurisdiction?  I can see an argument where a child born in the U.S. has parents who are in the U.S. as part of a diplomatic mission or merely passing through as tourist or visiting briefly a sick relative.  Where the parents have clearly demonstrated that they have no intent of permanently residing in the U.S., then the child could be viewed a citizen of a foreign nation.

But where the parents immigrate to the United States with the intent of seeking employment, making a home, and educating their children born on American soil, and voluntarily accept the laws of the U.S. and abide according to the domestic laws of the country, it becomes clearer where their legal allegiance lies.

I use legal allegiance because a subject is expected to abide by the laws of their residential homeland.  I would expect that the immigrant will bring her cultural practices with her, and for most there will always be a love for their native land.  Some, as my father did, may harbor visions of someday returning, but like him, will carry out the practices of a “good American” by paying their taxes, voting, and participating in community service.

In addition, is it fair to extend the jurisdiction of a foreign nation to a child born on American soil to immigrant parents?  Shouldn’t the child be given the opportunity to demonstrate which jurisdiction he is subject to? More than likely, the child, like his parents, will practice American citizenship by abiding by his birth countries laws and taking up his birth countries cultural practices.  The influences of various social agencies, including family, school, civic organizations, etc., will most likely increase the child’s allegiance to the U.S.

And while my above observation holds in general for nay immigrant to the U.S., I am particularly mindful of immigrants from “down island” who, like my parents, moved to the Virgin Islands to establish a better life for themselves and their future offspring.  My mother has shared with me countless times her and my father’s numerous attempts to ensure compliance with American immigration law during the 1960s; demonstrating clearly their decision to be subject to the jurisdiction of the United States.  To have extended the jurisdiction of St.Kitts-Nevis and Anguilla over their children would not have been appropriate in equity, even given the fondness that I still have for St.Kitts and Nevis.  Fondness does not create jurisdiction.


Where the immigrant has demonstrated that they intend to subject themselves to the jurisdiction of the United States, the children they give birth to on American soil should enjoy birthright citizenship.

Representative democracy has failed black people in America

The growth of political capitalists …

Representation means nothing if the spoils of society are not being delivered for each vote provided by citizens.  Black voters in particular are interested in optimal physical safety, a need stemming from violence perpetrated on them during the Jim Crow era; optimal access to capital, without which economic security is near impossible or very difficult; and the right to exist as a unique and thriving culture.

What I see being exchanged for each vote delivered by black citizens is the acquisition of a title by one or two elected representatives.  Representative democracy has created political capitalism, where owners of the political factors of political output are not creating political outcomes that address protecting uniqueness of black society, optimal black economic security, or optimal protection from violence.  Government, rather, is a feeding trough for black political representatives, with the number of voters they can persuade to vote for their party serving as the tickets for admission to the political feeding spots.

Government as a club you swing, not a club you join …

Blacks should not look at government as a club to send their smoothest talking salesman to.  Rather, blacks should look at government as a club that can be swung in order to generate capital access, physical security, and economic empowerment.  The outcomes should be a result of pressure politics.  This means that black political leadership should not be found embedded in the political machinery.  Black political leadership should be manipulating the political machinery from the outside.

Blacks in America need only go back to 1954 when the U.S. Supreme Court, in Brown v. Board of Education, vacated the ruling in Plessy v. Ferguson, holding that segregated educational facilities were unconstitutional.  This major landmark civil rights action did not flow from the efforts of black members of Congress.  There were hardly any.  This ruling was the result of blacks taking alternative action in the courts, an approach that was focused and targeted on, in my opinion, the most important branch of government.  It is here where the social and public policy goals of law are interpreted and in some cases, where current social policy is brought to light and used to overturn precedent.

Creative chaos versus status quo ….

When black representatives allow themselves to be embedded in the current electoral structure, their priorities shift to satisfying congressional leadership and mining votes for their national parties.  These activities serve the interests of a majority white congressional leadership versus the black constituents black representatives are supposed to be advocating for.  Take for example U.S. Representative Al Green’s attempt to bring forward articles of impeachment against President Donald J. Trump.  The articles were blocked by the House with Mr. Green, Democrat of Texas, not being able to bring the majority of his own party on board with the proposal.

Mr. Green’s actions were in keeping with the status quo of congressional politics.  But did his actions result in any benefits for black constituents?  Did they lead to an increase in physical or economic security?  Did they lead to increased influence of blacks in the national Democratic Party?

What is likely is that Mr. Green lost political capital and as a political capitalist he must realize that a decreased ability to bring voters with him to the trough means lessened prestige in the Congress.  The other issue he has to face is how his constituents will deal with the knowledge that their congressman has wasted scarce political capital on a go nowhere initiative all because being embedded in the machinery creates the obligation of delivering outcomes that don’t serve them.

Conclusion: Representative democracy is failing blacks …

Representative democracy has failed black people in America.  The representatives from the black community in Washington have been converted into agents for their respective party’s leadership, securing the votes needed so that they can pull up a chair at the trough.  Just like social media has turned subscribers to social networks into resource and product for advertisers, the electoral system has turned black voters into lumps of coal with black congressmen acting as the conveyor belt carrying the coal to the primaries and the national elections.

The question is, what is the alternative approach?


Increasingly wary of the entrepreneurship narrative

The eye catcher ….

Social media in particular has been pushing entrepreneurship to blacks as another path to wealth building.  I need to ponder this idea some more particularly from the legal and public policy perspective, but right now I wonder if entrepreneurship is nothing but a policy sham, designed to keep the eyes of Americans in general and black Americans in particular off of what truly drives wealth building in any economy: capital, especially its monopolization.

True wealth building factors ….

Since I am not wealthy, the following wealth factors are from what I have observed versus actually experienced.  They are:

  1. The ownership of the factors of production.
  2. Ownership or significant control of a unique production process.
  3. Investment in a number of unique production processes that provide significant returns.
  4. The sale of unique, exceptional expertise.

Entrepreneurship: Wage slavery on steroids … 

Entrepreneurs are typically involved in the resale of the output of the production process.  They rarely own the intellectual property behind the production process or the product itself.  They are typically agents competing against other agents trying to sell the same or like products.  Competition erodes the opportunities they have to earn high profit.  They are stuck in the volume game.  Any wealth the attain will come from their ability to save some portion of their business margins.  Most are wage slaves with the additional responsibility of paying back a business loan with the hopes of capturing the value of the firms during their sale.

Parting, starting thoughts….

Should policy provide entrepreneurs with more opportunity to capture wealth and if so, how?  Are we too fixated with the “actin aspect” of wealth that we are paying little attention to the thought exercise that is involved in creating the true value behind wealth and its transmission?

Again, just some thoughts on entrepreneurship that I promise to share later.

Blacks need a new political law game

The political battle between the Executive and the Congress has been intense to say the least over the last twenty-seven months since Donald Trump took office.  With post-Mueller report hearings ramping up next week, the saga only promises to continue way into campaign season.

My friends and family have expressed varying degrees of interest, with a significant number of opinions fueled more by emotion and less by critical thinking.  For example, the constant reference to “collusion”, a term that has no legal meaning, is disconcerting because it provides an example of how people are ignoring the particulars (even when readily available for examination) and rolling with the globs of misinformation thrown onto the plate most times by the mainstream media.

Black congressional leadership wasting political power …

What should also be disturbing is how two of the highest ranking blacks in the Congress, Maxine Waters and Elijah Cummings, are spearheading the charge in the impeachment debate.  Their distaste for the sitting president is evident, but what is less evident is how the use of a potent political law instrument as impeachment is supposed to translate into any increase in political power, wealth, or capital for black people.

If anything, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has expressed caution about pursuing impeachment, appreciating the argument from some inside her party that pursuing impeachment could have a negative impact on the Democrats’ ability to oust Donald Trump from the Oval Office in November 2020.  Mrs. Pelosi’s hesitancy on impeachment should have provided Ms. Waters and Mr. Cummings an opening to show leadership and go against the impeachment grain, not because it would be in line with Speaker Pelosi’s sentiment, but as a signal that the energy expenditure behind impeachment does nothing for their prime constituency: black people.

When you are marginalized, you agitate …

With at least 51 voting members in the U.S. House, blacks in the Congress are in a position to be the pivotal swing vote on a number of issues including impeachment. Numerically, black members of the House, where articles of impeachment would originate, could clog the wheel by holding back approximately 20% of the Democratic vote.  With this leverage, black congressmen could attempt concessions from either the House leadership or from President Trump, though it is less likely that the black caucus would try to negotiate with the President for fear of becoming a pariah in the Democratic Party.

Therein lies a telling dilemma. If the premier block of black congressmen cannot leverage numerical strength without fear of reprisal, what good is their strength?  Another irony is that for a group of congressman that represent a marginalized group, their fear of marginalization within Congress does not put them in a position to do more for their black constituents.

Maybe the answer is to stay outside the box …

On the other hand, maybe blacks, particularly those who embrace their status as marginalized, need an approach to political law that allows them to carve out their own independent niche; one that unapologetically finds the seams or openings in the political economy in order to access capital or create substantive platforms for constructing true communities. Current black leadership is too afraid to do that.

Capital. The true digital divide

A couple early morning thoughts on the digital divide.  So far the digital divide narrative has occupied two schools of thought that are not necessarily opposed to each other.

Race and the Digital Divide

The first school of thought revolves around race.  Given that within the black American community there is a higher level of poor households, affordability is keeping blacks from accessing the internet via high-speed broadband infrastructure.  If blacks do not have the income to sustain a broadband business model, then internet access providers are less likely to deploy facilities in poor neighborhoods.  Lack of deployment in these neighborhoods may result in a barrier to valuable information that may lead to greater economic opportunities, according to advocates seeking to close this gap.

Rural Communities and the Digital Divide

The second school of thought revolves around rural communities.  The argument is that lower population density as compared to urban areas makes deploying broadband access facilities in rural areas more expensive.  In addition, terrain, such as that faced by internet access providers in mountain states, has traditionally added to the problem of higher costs to provide broadband access facilities.

An Overlooked Divide

There is another divide, one that is often overlooked and it has to go to what is known as “first-mover advantage.” The real value generated by the internet is the ability to extract, analyze, package, and distribute information, and have that information be available digitally forever.  The focus on a gap between facilities deployed in black neighborhoods versus facilities deployed in white neighborhoods or the gap between rural community deployment versus urban community deployment goes to seeking out new suppliers of information.  The civil right veneer that has been placed over the broadband racial divide hides this supply-side characteristic from the policy debate.  It has also created the opportunity for the political left to craft an electoral package that can be sold to voters.

It is the other side of the equation, the production side, that, in my opinion holds more value.  When we look at the history of the internet, particularly the period when the internet was commercialized, its players included white venture capitalists; Web 1.0 internet service providers, i.e. AOL, CompuServ, Mindspring, etc.; and dial-up access providers such as BellSouth.

Black Americans could always access information from analog sources, i.e. television; print media; or word of mouth, but the efficient extraction, cataloging,  indexing, aggregation, and distribution of information via the internet were the domain of companies invested in and managed by whites.  As whites continued to level their first-mover advantage, this gap between producer/owner of capital and consumer continued to grow.

Capital not only seeks a vacuum, it also seeks a return.  Returns from investing in black or even rural communities were not going to be as high as returns invested in affluent neighborhoods, neighborhoods whose residents probably owned shares in the very companies that commercialized the internet in the first place.  Closing the “digital divide” means first closing the capital divide.

What will Government Do Next?

Government will do nothing from a capital perspective to close the digital divide. The Federal Communications Commission has a number of universal service funding initiatives designed to encourage mobile and fixed broadband deployment in rural areas; to facilitate the delivery of health care via broadband; and to reduce the costs incurred by low-income consumers for accessing and maintaining high-speed broadband service.  By subsidizing the consumer demand for broadband services, the Commission hopes to encourage the delivery of broadband services.  But again, the focus is on consumer demand, not bridging the capital gap.

The philosophical underpinnings of the American economy, where capital is to flow freely to its best use may prohibit government from taking any concrete action for closing a capital gap.  If blacks or rural residents had sufficient capital to purchase, construct, or maintain broadband access facilities, using their intimate knowledge of their communities to distribute services, we might see a decrease in the gap.  We should expect that government will stay on a path of incentivizing capital investment in infrastructure development versus trying to repair capital discrepancies via a capital transfer.