My Experience Living in the U.S. - by Natalia Sgrinhelli

My Experience Living in the U.S.

- Written by Natalia Sgrinhelli

            I spent half of my life strongly asserting that I would never live abroad. I had many arguments to prove how attached I was to my family, friends and culture, and I was willing to list them to whoever insisted a cultural exchange out of country would be a good experience for me. But after many years of insistence of two great friends and a long conversation with a coworker about her own experience abroad, I found myself considering the possibility myself.

At the time I was stagnated in a career that wasn’t fulfilling to me, my home country, Brazil, was showing the first signs of an economic crisis and I had little opportunity for growth. I suddenly understood that being fluent in a second language would improve my professional prospects greatly and I decided to commit to a year of a cultural exchange program in U.S.

It was not an easy process and the emotional challenges started at packing. I will never forget the feeling: it was like I was leaving half of my life behind. The arrival in the U.S. was shock with the language posing as a barrier itself. Very simple tasks, like grocery shopping or using public transportation, demanded all my energy and concentration. On the other hand, I will also never forget the day I could obtain a Social Security Card by myself. I was in the country for a couple weeks only, but the sense of achievement I felt remains with me to this date.

My exchange program allowed me to meet many young women from different countries, that I now consider my dear friends. It is strange and marvelous how we became a type of family to each other, considering not even our native languages are the same. I also formed a bond with the program counselor, a strong and kind woman that guided all of us while we were here. I learned so much from her and all the girls about diversity when hearing the stories from their home countries. I learned to respect differences and to look at people with more kindness, because each person has a personal journey which we know nothing about.

I was also very fortunate to live with an amazing host family that opened their house to me like it was my own. With their guidance and support, I enrolled in an MBA program. I had never imagined I would be able to attend university in a foreign country. It was one of the biggest challenges of my life to obtain a diploma using my second language.

My hardest task, however, was dealing with homesickness. This is the only word I know to define feelings that I cannot put in words. I like to describe my life in U.S. as a roller-coaster: some days I believe it is the best decision I have ever made and others I cannot explain why I decided to be away from Brazil. Luckily, I have had more days on the top. As time passed, I felt more immersed in the American culture. Everything became more familiar and less overwhelming.

I have been living in the U.S. for four and half years and this situation became more permanent now that I am happily married. My time here was only meant to advance my professional career but ended up being my most significant period of personal growth. After all this time, I realized that I did not leave my life behind, as I can barely remember the things I could not fit in my suitcase. I understood that my feeling of loss came from separating from my family and friends and, although time really does help us heal, I still miss them. Most importantly, I learned that my perception of belonging is strongly influenced by the ones around me. I came to love many people from a different country that I now dread having to separate from the same way I did when I left my home country years ago.

How Living Abroad Changed the Way I Interact with Newcomers - by JP McMaken

How Living Abroad Changed the Way I Interact with Newcomers

- Written by JP McMaken

            People move sometimes, and they move for a ton of different reasons. Chances are you have either moved somewhere new, or have come across someone in that situation. I personally, at the age of 11, moved across the Atlantic Ocean to Switzerland, where I lived until the age of 15. Living there was the best and worst experience of my life, but it was nothing if not transformative. Until that point, I had rarely left my hometown, and I had very little interaction with people who didn’t live less than 20 minutes away from my house. After being thrust into a completely new continent, environment and culture, I became the newcomer, the stranger. Living abroad gave me the chance to experience what it was like to have to adapt. Looking back on it now, it is possible to see how I was treated, and mistreated, to discover how to interact and welcome newcomers I come across in my own space.

The Stress They’re Dealing With

Do you remember the stress of your first day at a new school? Or maybe your first job interview? The fear of an environment you are unfamiliar with, the knowledge that you are being watched and judged by people that are in said environment. That stress is similar to what newcomers have to experience for a long period of time. This is only worse if the newcomer doesn’t speak English as their first language (or whatever language is spoken in the area). The environment becomes not only new, but near hostile when you can’t understand what the people around you are saying. Speaking from personal experience, this level of stress can dominate your thoughts on a near daily basis, especially if there is nobody there to help out.

Stereotypes: They Don’t Help

While this concept is reinforced everywhere, it is still important to mention. There are stereotypes for everyone, every nationality, profession. I personally was bullied a lot when I was living abroad based on American stereotypes. I was told that Americans were stupid, fat, and entitled. I found myself trapped in a defensive battle with these bullies, trying unsuccessfully to prove through my actions that not all Americans were like that, but that only served to inflame them further whenever I made a mistake. For example, I’m a slow eater, like very slow. Kids would see me eating for longer than everyone else, and assume that I was just a fat American eating my second or third helping, when I was just taking my time.  I didn’t think I fit those stereotypes, nor did I think that the other Americans I met abroad fit them either. People aren’t defined by stereotypes, and every person is different. This fact is important to remember, because it is so easy to just fall into sorting people based on stereotypes.

What I Learned

In school in Switzerland, I wasn’t placed in a regular classroom. I, along with about 10 other international students, were separated from the rest of the student body and placed in their own class, in order to focus on the development of speaking French. While that would make sense academically, that decision without a doubt ruined my class’s chances socially. Interacting with other local students during gym class and recess became a nightmare. Because we didn’t work together, and were only seen during times of little teacher supervision, I never had the chance to be introduced to these kids. They didn’t know me, and therefore I was a target. Not only did the bullying not help me, but it also hindered my language development. A lot of language use is in casual conversation, not just in academia. If I had even one local student reach out to me, it would have helped significantly, in both reducing my stress of being new and my language development. It is surprising how much of a new language you can learn by interacting with people outside of learning in an academic setting. I can assure you that newcomers you may meet in the future will be grateful if you reach out to them first to try and ease them into their environment. After all, it is the one you’re comfortable with.

- By JP McMaken

Right Here - Right Now

Right Here - Right Now

- Written by Joe Cimperman

The last 24 hours for me have been a picture perfect snapshot of why the organization I lead was founded. Yesterday, along with Global Cleveland’s colleagues across the State of Ohio, I had the opportunity to speak with and listen to Governor Mike DeWine, and several members of our Northeast Ohio delegation in the House and Senate (thank you Representatives Upchurch, Skindell, and Crosmann for taking time to talk and listen!) To a person, the idea of Ohio’s prosperity being part and parcel of welcoming immigrants, refugees, international newcomers was top of mind. When my team travels to conferences and workshops across this great nation, people always remark on how lucky we are to live in Ohio (I agree) and how welcoming communities like Cleveland are (hear hear, we could always do more and we are, but it’s nice that this is recognized) From our Governor’s bold, moral, righteous, compassionate, strategic, economic development focused letter to Secretary Pompeo that Ohio is welcoming to refugees coming here to live and prosper, to the Department of Development continuing and growing the maps for the Office of New Ohioans, we live in a state that leads the nation in how we actively welcome, work to integrate, and support our international newcomers. It gives me such hope to see leadership on this issue that really leads. Driving home last night from Columbus through a snowstorm to the Greater Cleveland Partnership Conference on Internships in a snowstorm this morning was completely worth it. I led a panel with David Leopold, a great advocate/attorney for immigration in Cleveland on H1B’s. (Don’t know what that is? Text me or email me and I will buy you a cup of coffee and share its magnificence for filling our talent gaps and growing our communities in Northeast Ohio all at once, all while improving your companies Diversity and Inclusion values/bottom line and bringing new and inspiring talent into your business!)

GCP had a panel on Diversity and Inclusion in the Internship Workforce. I can tell you in all my professional experience it was the most knowledgeable and tactical in terms of how we can all open our eyes to the world, who is leading and how, and what paths we can all take to make our organizations and corporations the strongest they can be. Gina Chevrine (GCP, panel moderator), Dan Tompkins (Ernst&Young), Sanford Watson (Tucker Ellis), Eric Logan (KPMG) all spoke brilliantly about how companies can become a lot more successful and a lot more diverse (as these two values go hand in hand, ok?!) I asked about international student internships, internships that require no visa, just open minds in HR. To a person, Gina, Dan, Sanford and Eric discussed how important this is to retain talent in NEO, grow our region, and diversify within in ways we often don’t discuss. We need you to be part of this movement. Why am I writing about these last 24 hours? Global Cleveland works every single day, often in the same day, to support good policy, push for better legislation, and grow our State and County and City with sound immigrant friendly/newcomer welcoming actions while working to implement in real time the ideas and practices that can continue to welcome even more than the 3000 immigrants our region is growing by every year. I could use your help. Email me [email protected] or text me 2162156765 if you want a cup of coffee. God I love this community.

Global Cleveland's Position on White House Public Charge Immigration Rule


Joe Cimperman, President, Global Cleveland
January 27, 2020

Global Cleveland, a nonprofit organization that exists to connect immigrants and newcomers to economic, social and educational opportunities in Cleveland and Cuyahoga County, opposes the current interpretation by the Trump administration of the “public charge” rule.

The organization sees first-hand the positive impact immigrants have on the region’s economic success. Limiting the ability for immigrants to become permanent residents of the United States would adversely affect the entire country’s economy and will push both high-skilled workers and international students to seek education and employment opportunities in other countries, therefore limiting the U.S.’s economic growth in the long-term.

Global Cleveland’s President Joe Cimperman said, “We are deeply disappointed the Supreme Court lifted the injunction to pave the way for this new interpretation to take effect. Immigrants not only make our country stronger economically, they also bring their creative genius to start businesses and employ Americans. We should work together to create a welcoming climate that is inclusive of people from all places, faiths and cultural traditions. We promote equity and inclusion practices throughout our region and the Trump administration’s new rule would adversely affect every American’s prosperity.”

The changes to the public charge will create a chilling effect, and already has, which is affecting immigrants. Enrollment rates are dropping. Parents are being forced to choose between applying for a green card or using SNAP benefits to feed their family or take their sick children to the doctor. In what world is that right? In what nation is that acceptable?

Public benefits are a safety net to help families get ahead when times are good and help families stay out of abject poverty when times are bad. They allow people to go to school to become better educated and earn more instead of working just to make ends meet. The public charge changes will now use that to deny an immigrant the right to stay here or the right to adjust their status and get on track to become full citizens. As it stands, 1/3 of U.S. citizens would fail the public charge criteria if it were applied to everyone. Do we want every third neighbor forced out simply because they do not earn enough money? What about the immigrant student who has a degree from a great university but doesn’t earn a high enough salary? Shouldn’t they be allowed to stay?

The new rule would effectively stop legal immigration, a process which was open to ALL of our forebears. Let’s not limit and close that same process that allowed us to be Americans to others just because they are different from many of us.

Global Cleveland’s mission is to attract, welcome and connect international newcomers to economic, social and educational opportunities in Cleveland and Cuyahoga County. We pride ourselves on being a welcoming voice for immigrants and newcomers to Cleveland. By promoting a spirit of welcome and regional prosperity, we set the table for internationalization and economic growth.


Talking Points for Public Charge Changes


The proposed rule change so broadens the definition of “Public Charge” as to include millions of people who are already contributing members of society and the economy.  It implicitly and incorrectly assumes that people who receive benefits now cannot become productive contributors in the future.

Most immigrants are not eligible for public benefits until they have had been in the US for 5 years. So, if at any point they need assistance, they will now need to choose to receive public benefits or have the chance to apply to be a legal permanent resident and eventually a citizen-where one has full rights to apply for and use public benefits. For many immigrants, education and income guidelines will affect their ability to get a visa possibly more than the use of public benefits themselves.

Instead of keeping the current definition of a “public charge” as someone “primarily dependent on the government for subsistence,” DHS would start denying green cards and temporary visas to anyone who is deemed likely at any time in the future to receive any government benefits from a specified list.

Under current rules, you are not considered “likely to become a public charge” as long as you have a sponsor who demonstrates income greater than 125% of the federal poverty guidelines (currently $20,575 for most couples without children. Congress requires most green card applicants to have a financial sponsor – typically a family member who is a U.S. citizen – who declares their willingness and ability to support their relative and prevent them from becoming dependent on government benefits.

This will change with the new standards. Now there will essentially be a wealth test imposed on new immigrants.

The only way to ensure not being affected by the new criteria would be to demonstrate a household income above 250% of the federal poverty guidelines. That’s currently $41,150 for a couple with no children and $73,550 for a family of five.

The Migration Policy Institute used Census data to estimate the impact of the 250% income threshold and found that some 56% of all family-based green card applicants could be denied.

If this new requirement were strictly enforced by both DHS and the State Department, then the administration could begin denying more than half of all marriage green card applicants each year. That could force nearly 200,000 couples annually to either leave the United States together or live apart indefinitely, according to a new report by Boundless.

40% of all green cards issued are for family reunification, but if those family members are poor, older, or less educated their visa will be denied. Grandparents, young children, and non-working spouses contribute in significant ways to our society even if they do not meet this wealth test.

The new standards will scare people off from applying for benefits-even people who qualify for them. This is known as a chilling effect, and there is good evidence to show this will happen in the current situation:

In 1996 a welfare reform law was passed. Food stamp use by noncitizens dropped by 43%. Refugee use of food stamps fell by 60% EVEN THOUGH THEY WERE ELIGIBLE AND NOT ADVERSELY AFFECTED. Families with at least one U.S. Citizen child legally entitled to benefits fell 53%. The perception alone of a negative consequence to their immigration status was enough to scare them away from using benefits to which they were entitled.

An estimated 24 million people in the United States would be affected by the chilling effect of the public charge regulation changes. Not all will face a public charge determination, but all are likely to be nervous about applying for benefits, and some portion will in fact disenroll from benefit programs.

In Cleveland, only 13.3% of eligible immigrants are naturalizing. Anyone thinking of applying for a green card will lose that opportunity if they use public benefits or do not earn sufficient income. Naturalized immigrants earn more than unnaturalized immigrants, yet these changes hamstring their opportunity to take care of themselves and their families during the interim. 

Yet Ohio’s immigrants pay into the U.S. entitlement programs they many cannot now use- to the tune of $412.1M to Medicare and $1.5B to Social Security, according to the New American Economy. They also contribute $2.1B in taxes, with no right to use the system.  

The Greater Cleveland Food Bank served 55.3 million meals in 2017

  • Over 4500 children, 10,450 seniors, and 4,600 low-income clients with health problems served.
  • Assisted with over 22,000 SNAP applications submissions
  • Made over 17.5 million meals available through SNAP

If immigrants are not eligible or afraid to use SNAP benefits it puts further stress on existing resources.

Immigrants help stabilize our population. In Ohio, there were 150,000 estimated lawful permanent residents in 2014, according to DHS. 737 refugees settled in Cleveland that same year and nearly 1,100 refugees resettled in Cleveland in 2016, according to the Refugee Service Collaborative. Many of these immigrants fill important jobs, bring new ideas to our community, and are more educated than the native-born population.

A 2018 report on Ohio’s New Americans found that 42.1% of Ohio’s immigrants have a 4-year degree or higher, according to the latest figures from the Census. That ranks Ohio as the most educated state in the nation for immigrants, tied with Maryland. Ohio’s 513,5929 immigrants have an oversized impact in ensuring that Ohio is globally connected.

By comparison, only 26.7% of native-born Ohioans are college-educated. That difference in college educational attainment between Ohio’s immigrants (42.1%) and their native-born counterparts (26.7%) is 15.4 percentage points: the largest divide in the nation.

Immigrants work in growing fields and fill employment gaps. The New American Economy found that the top Industries with Highest Share of Foreign-Born Workers are:

9.1%    Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services

7.7%    Educational Services

7.6%    Manufacturing

7.2%    Health Care and Social Assistance

7.1%    Transportation and Warehousing

Ohio’s immigrants primarily work in the Management, Business, Healthcare, and the Arts—a diverse professional services sector that includes industries such as education, hospitals, and other health facilities, and computer systems and legal services. Specifically, 43.6% of Ohio’s immigrants in the labor force work in the professional services sector: the second-highest concentration in the nation. Over seventeen percent (17.3%) work in Production and Transportation, ranking in the top 20 nationally. If these workers come upon hard times and cannot apply for benefits to support themselves and their families, will they quit? What kind of labor shortage will this cause? What kind of strain on the economy will workers who are not well fed and have medical care create?

About 20% of Ohio’s college-educated immigrants are underemployed—the fiscal effects are significant, with half a billion lost in foregone earnings and an associated $53 million in unrealized payroll tax receipts, according to the Migration Policy Institute. Public benefits can help support these immigrants while they work to obtain stronger language skills or acclimate appropriately to enter the workforce. It is important to support our immigrants so they can be as successful as they can and achieve their American Dream.

The New American Economy found that NEARLY 44% OF AMERICAN’S FORTUNE 500 COMPANIES WERE FOUNDED BY AN IMMIGRANT OR CHILD OF AN IMMIGRANT, and the children of these immigrants, who generation after generation have found even more success than their parents, have played a central role in shaping America’s economy. Immigrants pay into public benefits anyway, pay taxes anyway, and then go on to entrepreneurs. The least we can do is offer them support when they need it without tying their “self-sufficiency” to a green card.

The Fiscal Policy Institute found that immigrants applying for green cards based on family status or employment would be primarily affected. These types of immigrants are the ones who create stable home environments for the most growth and wellbeing of their communities, hence severely handicapping the economic security of those families as well as local economic growth.


Having an income of under $15,000 for a single person or $31,000 for a family of four would be weighed negatively, and could lead to a denial. Thus, coming from country with lower standards of living makes it practically impossible to pass the public charge test-codifying the racist, xenophobic rhetoric used by the President regarding which immigrants are worthy to be in the United States.

6.9 million children who are eligible for public benefits may not receive them because their parents are afraid to apply because of the parents’ status, thus weakening families and denying children the right to grow up healthy.  

NEO has the densest population of foreign-born residents in the state of Ohio. The immigrant population in the state at large is 4.3%, in Cleveland it is 5.2% but owner-occupied housing in Cleveland is 41.8% vs state rate of 66.1% makes denying immigrants use of public housing even more problematic.

13% of immigrants in Cleveland speak another language than English vs 6.9% statewide. Public charge changes would significantly affect Clevelanders at a disproportionate rate.

Median household income in Cleveland is $27,800 vs $52,400 statewide. Public charge changes would have a negative compounding effect because immigrants in poverty would not have any social safety net.

Ohio's population lost about 183,000 native-born Ohioans over the past six years. But over that same period, nearly 113,000 immigrants moved into the state, "helping stabilize Ohio's population, and are, in fact, a source of growth." (

42.1% of Ohio’s immigrants have a four-year degree.

43.6% of Ohio’s immigrants work in the professional sector.

62.2% of Ohio’s immigrants are married with children.


Cuyahoga: 47.6% Native, married-couple family; 65.5% foreign-born, married couple family

Divorce rate: 9% vs 14% Foreign-born vs. Native-born

(Source: ACS 5-Year 2015 Percent of Married Family Households.)

Immigrants in Ohio are well educated but may not come with enough income to be awarded visas, change of status, or green cards, but that doesn’t mean they are a drain on our economy, they in fact help it by stabilizing the population and workforce.

It’s not just high-skilled immigrants Ohio needs, but low-skilled immigrants as well. In fact, many of America’s fastest-growing occupations require no secondary education at all, including construction and leisure and hospitality. Here, 18.1% of Ohio’s immigrants work in the service sector—including janitorial, housekeeping, and the food and beverage industry—while 6.5% work in construction and maintenance. The lower-skilled occupation that’s in most demand, however, is in personal care and home health, with an additional 1.1 million care providers needed by 2024. Yet the supply of workers is increasingly unmet.





Foreign-born workers play an increasingly important role in the stabilization of our economy and labor market as badly needed labor as baby boomers retire the growing labor force gap grows. Immigrants and their U.S. born children will mitigate this growing labor gap over the next several decades.

Home health aides, for instance, earn an average $10 per hour. To that end, there’s substantial evidence that shows immigrants fill the nation’s most demanding jobs in large part because native-born Americans won’t. (

23.3% of employed foreign-born persons 16 years and older work in service occupations-health care support, food preparation, building and grounds cleaning and maintenance, personal care and service.

It is often cited that immigrants take jobs and reduce wages. In fact, foreign-born workers add jobs by increasing consumer demand and they specialize in jobs that enhance demand for native-born workers by making the latter more productive (Cato Journal, Vol. 37, No. 3).

How many mothers, with the support of a foreign-born nanny, go back to work after having children? Or how many middle professionals can employ a foreign-born home health aide to help with their ailing parent and not have to take extended leaves from work? But it is precisely these immigrants that the proposed public charge changes effect because these kinds of jobs tend to not pay living wages, which precipitate the need for public assistance, which can get this caretaker deported if the proposed changes go into effect.

A total of 8.3 million children who are currently enrolled in Medicaid and CHIP or receiving SNAP benefits are potentially at risk of disenrollment, of whom:

5.5 million have specific medical needs:

615, 842 children with asthma,

53,728 children with epilepsy,

3,658 children with cancer, and

583,700 children with disabilities or functional limitations.


Nearly 2 million children are at risk of being disenrolled from these programs as parents choose between applying for a green card or receiving Food Stamps and Medicaid for their children. (JAMA Pediatrics. Published online July 1, 2019. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2019.1744)

Some children will themselves be subject to the Trump Rule. A far greater number live in families that will likely experience a chilling effect. In the United States, 9 million children under 18 years old live in families with at least one non-citizen family member and that have received one of the benefits specified by the Trump Rule. The large majority, 7.8 million of the 9 million, are United States citizens with a right to those benefits.

Legal immigrants use federal public benefit programs at lower rates than U.S.-born citizen

32.5% of native-born citizen adults receive SNAP benefits

25.4% of naturalized citizen adults receive SNAP benefits

29% of noncitizen adults receive SNAP benefits

In addition to immigrants’ lower rate of SNAP usage, they also receive lower benefit values, costing the program less, according to the National Immigration Forum.


29% of people born in the United States would be deemed unacceptable if they were subjected to the same test. (

The USDA calculates that every dollar in new SNAP benefits results in $1.80 in total economic activity in Ohio. There are over 37,000 households receiving SNAP benefits in Ohio.

3.5% are Latino/Hispanic households

38.4 are white households

50.3% of households have children under the age of 18

Over 60 million dollars a year are awarded in SNAP benefits, that generates more than 108 million dollars in economic activity produced.

Boston Medical Center’s Children’s HealthWatch’s study in 2018 surveying over 35,000 immigrant families have found that SNAP enrollment has dropped 10% in the first half of 2018, showing that the chilling effect started before these standards were even put in place.

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities and the Economic Policy Institute ran a simulation just regarding the use of the two most popular public subsidies: SNAP and Medicaid. The economic impact of potential disenrollment is HUGE.

Simulated Impact of Trump Rule

15% Disenrollment in SNAP and Medicaid 25% Disenrollment in SNAP and Medicaid 35% Disenrollment in SNAP and Medicaid
Reduction in Benefits $7.5 billion $12.5 billion $17.5 billion
Potential Economic Ripple Effects $14.5 billion  $24.1 billion $33.8 billion
Potential Jobs Lost 99,000 164,000 230,000


If money on this scale is withdrawn from the economy, there would be predictable ripple effects to businesses and workers. Withdrawal of SNAP funding means a reduction in spending in grocery stores and supermarkets. When families lose health insurance, hospitals and doctors lose income. Other spending would be reduced as well, as families struggle to pay food and health costs.

SNAP and Medicaid, along with other public benefits serve as an important economic stabilizer: they create a bigger stimulus during an economic downturn and less in a period of high growth, according to the Fiscal Policy Institute.

The chilling effect will hurt workforce development. As our nation continues its efforts to build a skilled workforce it is contending with record low unemployment. Businesses are struggling to fill open positions, particularly for middle-skill jobs.

Immigrants account for one in six U.S. workers. They are essential to closing this skill gap. The proposed rule would undercut immigrants’ ability to access training for middle-skill jobs. Even though the public charge proposal does not apply to some categories of immigrants (such as refugees), does not include education and workforce programs, people are nevertheless expected to withdraw from a wide array of public programs out of fear and confusion.

Thus:  the chilling effect goes far beyond the scope of the rule itself.  Immigrant participation in publicly funded adult education and workforce programs is expected to decline, which we see happening already with food and medical subsidies.

When basic needs cannot be met, dropout rates for training programs increases and fewer students enroll in education and training programs. Adult learners and jobseekers will have to decide between dis-enrolling from health and nutrition programs and jeopardize their ability to complete their training or to stay enrolled in the programs and potentially jeopardize their immigration status. Without being able to use public benefits such as SNAP and Medicaid to take care of basic needs, how will immigrants ever get past the economic hurdle to becoming economically self-sufficient?

Under the proposed regulation, one could be barred for having a child with a chronic illness, a home mortgage, a past dispute that has impacted one’s credit score, or an annual income under $63,000 a year (above the median household income for U.S.-born families), to name just a few of the numerous potentially disqualifying factors.

As a result, many immigrants who are working full time, supporting a family, and contributing to the economy could be barred admission or denied permanent residency. Legal status could be denied even to immigrants who are up to 95 percent self-sufficient, according to the CATO Institute.

Regarding Employers:

A U.S. employer is going to find it more difficult and much less predictable to extend the status of a highly skilled worker on an H-1B visa or to help switch a key recruit from a student visa to an H-1B.

Unless the employer is paying the worker more than that newly made-up threshold – 250% of the poverty line – they might not be able to renew their work visa and stay in the United States. Assuming $73,550 for a family of five, that’s potentially going to be some portion of H-1B professionals.

According to DHS the new public charge rule would affect over 500,000 temporary visa applications each year and compliance costs could top $1.3 billion over the next decade, which doesn’t include if the State Department starts applying the same standards to millions of applicants abroad.

Applicants’ approval process will become even longer, which is a burden on employers due to a new “Declaration of Self-Sufficiency form and the accompanying evidence.


Any of the following factors could become a “negative factor” that convinces DHS you are likely to become a public charge:

  1. Prior or current use of certain public benefits.
  2. Being older than 61.
  3. Being younger than 18.
  4. Having any medical condition that could interfere with school or work.
  5. Not having sufficient resources to cover such a medical condition.
  6. Not having private health insurance.
  7. Having several children or other dependents.
  8. Having financial liabilities.
  9. Having “bad credit” or a low credit score.
  10. Having no employment history.
  11. Not having a high school diploma or higher education.
  12. Not having “adequate education and skills” to hold a job.
  13. Not speaking English.
  14. Receiving an application fee waiver from DHS.
  15. Having a sworn financial sponsor whom DHS feels is “unlikely” to follow through.

These factors in any combination mean only wealthy, educated, working-age people are deemed worthy enough to reside in the United States and maybe eventually become United States Citizens

When you have to choose between getting a green card and taking your child to the doctor or letting them go hungry, there is a problem, and it is not that immigrants are depleting public resources.  The public charge changes deny humans the chance to contribute economically and socially, and by default will cost our taxpayers billions, our employers great workers, and our dignity as a nation of immigrants.


* * *








Compiled by Elizabeth Cusma for Global Cleveland, July 2019

Guest Blog: My Trip to Madagascar

“Have you seen the movie?”

That was usually the first question people asked me about my trip, both before and after. I had not seen the movie so I couldn’t offer a comparison. However, I really didn’t think I would see many cartoonish lemurs dancing in the streets of the capital of Antananarivo, or Tana for short.

I did see a lot of rain which wasn’t surprising as it was the rainy season. From the third floor of my hotel I watched dark heavy clouds roll into the city, dumping buckets of rain and filling the streets with standing water. Tana, like many major cities globally, does not have the built or natural infrastructure needed to accommodate heavy downpours. Storms, like the one I witnessed, may become less frequent but more intense in the future.

According to a climate change risk profile for Madagascar produced by the U.S. Agency for International Development, the country may experience more frequent or intense extreme weather events like drought or cyclones, warmer temperatures, and erratic rainfall. Extreme weather may bring about challenges in accessing water for drinking and food production as well as increased risk of diseases such as malaria and diarrheal illness. Drought could limit agricultural production and lead to higher food prices. Flooding and landslides could easily isolate entire communities. Due to the limited number of roads throughout the country, impacts on those living in rural areas could intensify as reaching people with supplies and support could be challenging.

While the world works on reducing carbon emissions with the hopes of slowing climate change, countries do their best to adapt to the changes. Nature-based solutions can help alleviate some of the impacts of drought and flooding. In Madagascar, restoring mangroves can help shorelines absorb the energy of waves thrashing coastal areas during storms, reducing flooding and erosion damage. Reforested areas could help slow the flow of water during times of heavy rain and provide help in holding moisture in the soil during drought. Protecting and rehabilitating these ecosystems would help conserve the unique plant and animal species found only in Madagascar.

Although the majority of my three week trip was spent working, I was able to leave Tana and spend some time exploring these natural wonders of the island. Just outside of the city, a private reserve rehabilitates lemurs previously kept in captivity until they are ready to be released back into the wild. I had the opportunity to see a few of the over 100 types of lemurs found only in Madagascar. Although the lemurs were within close proximity to people, they went about their business of eating, climbing, swinging, and yes, “dancing.” There was no prompting of the animals to jump on our shoulders and we were warned to maintain a distance from them. Knowing the animals would be heading back into protected areas, I was happy they were not being treated as pets.

I spent a few days in and around Andasibe Mantadia National Park, a few hours to the east of Tana. During my time there, I explored the area during the day and night with a guide. Guides are required to explore protected areas, but it really was to my advantage. I would not have spotted a green chameleon or a mouse lemur high in the tree in the darkened forest without these local experts. Locating Indri lemurs would have been challenging just staying on the park’s trail. My guide coordinated with his colleagues to find several groups of different types of lemurs off the trail system.

While visitors are drawn to the country for these types of experiences in nature, I also valued my time with the people I met. They found ways to communicate with me since I didn’t speak Malagasy. They respectively challenged my ideas and provided me with insight into their worldviews. As with every trip abroad I take, I walked away from this opportunity seeing life in a new light along with the reminder to slow down a little bit. Or as they say in Malagasy mora mora.


Written by Kristi Tabaj

Culture + Community + Culinary Arts = Culture.CLE

Culture.CLE is a nonprofit organization focused on creating a community that values diversity and appreciation for the local immigrant and refugee population by promoting immigrant-owned small businesses. Culture.CLE creates spaces that allow for open conversation and opportunity to comfortably experience other cultures and communities. One of its’ approaches is to bring together groups around food - a universally important component of culture. Given that many cultures have a strong connection to food and the time spent around the table, the monthly dinner series featuring ethnic culinary businesses is a prime way to both support small businesses and educate people on other cultures.

Culture.CLE understands the value that the restaurant industry brings by offering a path to entrepreneurship and meaningful employment opportunities for many minorities. By supporting these local, minority-owned culinary businesses we are helping generate a new customer base for years to come for these small businesses. The 50+ restaurants owned and operated by Cleveland’s immigrant and refugee population assists these newer communities in thriving in Cleveland and also adds flavor to the existing community. These businesses greatly contribute to Cleveland’s reputation as a foodie town. Simultaneously, they also help enrich a sense of place for ethnic minorities by offering a slice of familiarity from their country of origin.

Central Kitchen and Culture.CLE formed a partnership to create an authentic dining experience that would offer a unique opportunity to learn about international cultures at its’ beautiful kitchen event space. The location gives participants an intimate look into a culture by allowing them to experience being in the kitchen and chatting over regional drinks with a different ethnic chef each month.

In the dinner series first event, Chef David Ina from Zaytoon Lebanese Kitchen taught guests how to prepare a number of traditional foods and what spices make the flavors unique to a Levantine cuisine. Event guests left with: a brief overview of the history of the Lebanese culture/community/ethnicity, a history of the food, a live demonstration of how to traditionally prepare the foods, unique cultural dining customs and, where to buy and dine these foods locally.

Culture.CLE’s monthly newsletter ties together the dinner series with the larger mission by promoting the chef’s small business. The newsletter includes recipes and menus from the featured chef and connects to the nonprofit’s second component, the international book club. Soon the book club will align with the dinner series and participants will have the option to immerse themselves in a culture through literature and food! Upcoming cultures include Honduran (4/30), Congolese (5/21) and Northern Indian (6/25), and a larger line-up soon to come. So why wait for a vacation, when you can experience 50+ cultures unique cuisines without ever leaving the 216?

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Written by Samantha A. Peddicord

Meet Our Newest  Board Member: Colin R. Jennings, Esq.

"Cleveland has always been a City that welcomes newcomers, and it has profited greatly culturally and economically from being open and inclusive.  As a new member of the Global Cleveland Board, I want to make sure that this great tradition remains a core part of our City, and to help facilitate the creation of opportunities for newcomers and their families within Cleveland.   Growth and opportunity are key to our City’s continued success.  We need to harness and support the great institutions and businesses that attract talented people to Cleveland from around the global, and in turn we provide opportunities to attract talented individuals to these public and private institutions.  By recognizing and developing these mutual benefits, we can see our City and region continue to grow and prosper in the world economy."


Learn more about Colin, by reading his full bio below: 

Colin R. Jennings has been selected as primary outside counsel for global compliance work by more than 35 public and privately held global companies, and regularly provides guidance and counseling in connection with these companies’ ongoing compliance efforts for both their domestic and international operations, including, when necessary, investigation and defense of compliance-related concerns.

Colin’s experience includes conducting independent reviews of the structure, operation and performance of established compliance programs. Colin regularly conducts compliance reviews and internal investigations throughout the US and globally. His advice on the design, implementation and assessment of compliance programs is informed by extensive internal investigations Colin has conducted and his experience in litigating claims arising from compliance-related matters. Colin regularly presents on global compliance programs, and is the author of numerous articles and chapters on the topic.

Colin has successfully tried numerous civil and criminal matters in various federal and state courts. His active litigation practice focuses on complex civil and criminal matters, including responses to governmental investigations and enforcement actions. As a natural extension of his compliance and litigation practice, Colin has an active data privacy and breach response practice. He regularly interacts with federal, state and international authorities concerning data breaches, and coordinates the forensic analysis and resulting claims or litigation that inevitably follow a breach.

Colin’s criminal practice involves representing public and private corporations and business professionals in response to criminal or regulatory investigations. Throughout the US and globally, he conducts internal investigations into allegations of employee misconduct, fraud or other business crimes, including the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, False Claims Act, Economic Espionage Ace, OFAC sanctions, money laundering and cybercrimes.

In addition, Colin has diverse and extensive experience in complex civil litigation arising from matters of fraud, abuse and criminal misconduct. This work includes the regular representation of professional athletes and other high-net-worth individuals who are the victims of fraud and violations of trust. Colin has represented athletes in all major sports leagues, including the NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, PGA and LPGA.

Colin is listed in The Best Lawyers in America and in Ohio Super Lawyers.

Colin is the former chair of the Certified Grievance Committee for the Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association (CMBA) and has served as trial counsel for the CMBA in various attorney discipline matters. He is also the former chair and a member of the leadership team for the CMBA’s Criminal Law Section, and a member of the John M. Manos Inn of Court.

Ohio City Farm’s 2019 CSA Registration Now Open

Located at Bridge Ave & W 24th St, the Ohio City Farm is Cleveland’s premier urban farm, offering fresh vegetables and herbs as well as added value items such as raw honey, dried spices, and fresh bread all produced on the farm by local refugees using organic methods. One of the best ways to get in on the action is to join the farm’s Community Supported Agriculture program (CSA). The CSA is a weekly opportunity to access in-season produce harvested at its peak quality and thoughtfully packaged each week just for you.

We offer two CSA share sizes and pickup locations on both the East and West sides. Visit our website at for more details and to purchase your share!

All CSA members receive 20% discount on all refugee response events, including our popular annual REAP the Benefit street festival.