Rescues continue along Texas-Louisiana border

admin   •   August 31, 2017   •   2574

The multi-agency rescue operation along the Texas-Louisiana border continued on Wednesday as storm Harvey made landfall once again, adding more rain after a record downpour that caused catastrophic flooding and paralyzed the city.

Videos of unprecedented rescue operations showed the vast destruction of the storm in the fourth largest city in the United States.

In Katy, Texas, the U.S. national guardsmen waded through waist-deep flood waters to rescue people and their pets.

An aerial video shot from a helicopter showed the vast extent of flood damage to areas in western and northwestern Houston where numerous structures were affected by a reservoir that had been released.

Meanwhile, agents from U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Air and Marine Operations (AMO) took part in a large air transfer of Red Cross blood donations in Houston to deal with the impact of the storm.

More than 10,000 people affected by the hurricane have taken shelter at the George R. Brown Convention Center, the largest shelter in Houston.

The city government also had to open the Toyota center, home to the Houston Rockets, to accept more displaced residents.

“I haven’t heard anything on the flooding situation in our area right now. I hope it’s getting better but from what other people were saying the hurricane is turning back around too. So I’m not sure about it. I know by the time that I got out of there, it was up to my chest. It was pretty bad,” said Wesley, a local resident.

“I would like to say, mom, Mary Dan, I made it. I’m a survivor. I can’t call you right now because somebody stole my phone. But I made it. [I’m from the] Midwest. I should be there in like a couple of days,” said affected resident Anthony Dan.

Harvey is projected to weaken as it moves inland to the northeast, the National Hurricane Center said. — (REUTERS)

 

Oplan Pamamalakaya: US, PH soldiers install artificial reefs in Batangas

Aileen Cerrudo   •   August 20, 2019

Jackstone-type artificial habitat reefs made from simple construction materials

The Philippine and the United States military divers, along with local government units and non-government organizations installed artificial reefs in Batangas on August 15.

Oplan Pamamalakaya is a collaboration between by the Philippine Air Force, DV Boer Farm, Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), Community Environment and Natural Resources Office, and Municipality of Calatagan local government and residents.

The team were able to install a total of 30 jackstone-type artificial habitat reefs made from simple construction materials. 

“This project was a fantastic opportunity for us to partner with our friends in the PAF and help preserve the Philippine environment for future generations,” said Major Zach Hart, a participating diver.—AAC

Iran warns U.S. against tanker seizure attempt

Robie de Guzman   •   August 19, 2019

Iranian Foreign Minister’s Spokesman Abbas Mousavi (Image grabbed from Reuters footage)

An Iranian tanker headed through the Mediterranean towards Greece on Monday (August 19) after it was released from detention off Gibraltar as Tehran warned against any U.S. move to seize the vessel again.

The Grace 1, renamed the Adrian Darya 1, left anchorage off Gibraltar about 11 p.m. (2100 GMT) on Sunday (August 18).

Refinitiv ship tracking data showed early on Monday that the vessel was heading to Kalamata in Greece.

The seizure of the tanker by British Royal Marines near Gibraltar on July 4 on suspicion it was carrying oil to Syria in violation of European Union sanctions led to a weeks-long stand-off between Tehran and the West. It also heightened tensions on international oil shipping routes through the Gulf.

Gibraltar, a British overseas territory, lifted the detention order on Thursday (August 22) but the next day a federal court in Washington issued a warrant for the seizure of the tanker, the oil it carries and nearly $1 million.

Iran on Monday said any U.S. attempt to seize the tanker would have “heavy consequences” and that a crisis in Iran’s ties with Britain would not be over until the vessel reached its destination. (Reuters)

(Production: Kristian Brunse)

US gov’t to deny green cards to immigrants using welfare programs

Robie de Guzman   •   August 13, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – The administration of US President Donald Trump announced on Monday a new policy that seeks to deny green cards to immigrants deemed likely to rely on government public welfare programs such as food stamps, housing assistance and Medicaid.

In a news release, the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced the rule that “clearly defines long-standing law to better ensure that aliens seeking to enter and remain in the United States – either temporarily or permanently – are self-sufficient and rely on their own capabilities and the resources of family members, sponsors and private organizations rather than on public resources.”

The DHS said the final rule revised the definition of “public charge” to incorporate consideration of more kinds of public benefits received, which the Department believes will better ensure that applicants subject to the public charge inadmissibility ground are self-sufficient.

The term “public charge” is defined as an individual who receives one or more designated public benefits for more than 12 months, in the aggregate, within any 36-month period.

The rule further defines the term “public benefit” to include any cash benefits for income maintenance, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF), Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP), most forms of Medicaid, and certain housing programs.

The new policy amends regulations by prescribing how DHS will determine whether an alien is inadmissible to the United States based on their likelihood of becoming a public charge in the future as set forth in the Immigration and Nationality Act.

It addresses the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to permit an alien to submit a public charge bond in the context of adjustment of status applications.

The rule also makes nonimmigrant aliens who have received certain public benefits above a specific threshold generally ineligible for an extension of stay and change of status.

The regulation also excludes from the public benefits definition those received by individuals who are serving in the Ready Reserve component of the U.S. armed forces, and their spouses and children; those received by certain international adoptees and children acquiring U.S. citizenship; Medicaid for aliens under 21 and pregnant women; Medicaid for school-based services (including services provided under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act); and Medicaid benefits for emergency medical services.

It also makes non-immigrant aliens in the United States who have received designated public benefits above the set threshold ineligible for change of status and extension of stay if they received the benefits after obtaining the non-immigrant status they seek to extend or from which they seek to change, the agency said.

“For over a century, the public charge ground of inadmissibility has been part of our nation’s immigration laws. President Trump has delivered on his promise to the American people to enforce long-standing immigration law by defining the public charge inadmissibility ground that has been on the books for years,” said USCIS Acting Director Ken Cuccinelli.

“Throughout our history, self-sufficiency has been a core tenet of the American dream. Self-reliance, industriousness, and perseverance laid the foundation of our nation and have defined generations of hardworking immigrants seeking opportunity in the United States ever since. Through the enforcement of the public charge inadmissibility law, we will promote these long-standing ideals and immigrant success,” he added.

The regulation also explains how the USCIS will exercise its discretionary authority, in limited circumstances, to offer an alien inadmissible only on the public charge ground the opportunity to post a public charge bond.

The minimum bond amount is set at $8,100 while the actual bond amount will be dependent on the individual’s circumstances.

The US government, however, stressed this regulation does not apply to humanitarian-based immigration programs for refugees, asylees, Special Immigrant Juveniles (SIJs), certain trafficking victims (T non-immigrants), victims of qualifying criminal activity (U non-immigrants), or victims of domestic violence (VAWA self-petitioners), among others. 

The DHS said the final rule supersedes the 1999 Interim Field Guidance on Deportability and Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds.

It will take effect on October 15 or 60 days from the date of publication in the Federal Register.

The USCIS said it will apply the public charge inadmissibility final rule only to applications and petitions postmarked or submitted electronically on or after the effective date.

Applications and petitions already pending with USCIS will be adjudicated based on the 1999 Interim Guidance.   

The USCIS said it will provide information and additional details to the public as part of public outreach related to the implementation of this rule.

Engagement sessions will also be conducted to ensure the public understands which benefits are included in the public charge inadmissibility rule.

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