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Trump administration shuts Haiti out of seasonal worker program

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Rule tightening follows end to humanitarian program that allowed tens of thousands of Haitians to live and work in U.S.

The Trump administration is further tightening immigration rules for Haitians, as it plans to remove the country from a program for temporary seasonal jobs, weeks after ending a humanitarian program that allowed tens of thousands of others to live and work in the U.S.

According to a notice that was set to be officially published in the Federal Register on Thursday, Haiti is being removed from a list of countries approved for the H-2A and H-2B visa programs as its participation “is no longer in the U.S. interest.” The programs permit certain foreigners to take temporary seasonal jobs in agriculture and other industries in the U.S., including tourism.

Haitians represent just a fraction of foreigners participating in temporary worker programs. During the 2016 budget year, 883 temporary workers and their relatives were admitted to the U.S., according to government data. During that same 12 months, more than 218,000 such visas were issued to people from around the world.

The visa change is the latest move by the Trump administration to curb Haitian immigration to the U.S. and comes days after President Donald Trump last week, during a bipartisan immigration meeting at the White House, questioned the need to extend legal immigrant status to Haitians.

Late last year, then-acting Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke announced the end of a humanitarian program that let roughly 50,000 Haitians live and work in the U.S. in the wake of the deadly 2010 earthquake that devastated parts of the country. They were given until July 2019 to either leave or apply for another immigration status.

 

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MARKETWATCH.COM

https://www.marketwatch.com/story/trump-administration-shuts-haiti-out-of-seasonal-worker-program-2018-01-18-8103594?mod=bnbh

Authorities Deport Man Who Had Lived In The U.S. For 30 Years

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“I got to leave my family behind, knowing that they’re probably going to have a hard time adjusting,” Jorge Garcia said.

Jorge Garcia, 39, bid his family farewell Monday under the watchful gaze of Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents, who required him to return to his native Mexico after living in the Detroit area for 30 years.

Emotional video of Garcia hugging his wife and two children at Detroit’s Metro Airport captured the emotional trauma that deportations can cause for families. Though members of Garcia’s family all are U.S. citizens, he was technically living in the country illegally.

“Yes, he was brought here at 10 years old and yes, he entered the country illegally, but he has no criminal record and his case needs to be looked at individually because he deserves to be here in a country that he’s known ― not Mexico,” his wife, Cindy Garcia, told CNN.

During President Barack Obama’s administration, Garcia received temporary extensions allowing him to avert a deportation order from 2009, according to the Detroit Free Press. ICE renewed the order in November and told Garcia he needed to exit the country by Jan. 15.

President Donald Trump’s crackdown on undocumented immigrants includes widescale raids, arrests and deportations. From the time Trump took office until the end of September, ICE removals that resulted from an arrests increased by 37 percent over the previous year, the Department of Homeland Security said. Meanwhile, the number of people apprehended attempting to cross the U.S. southern border dropped to a historical low in fiscal 2017.

Garcia expressed sadness and apprehension about returning to a country he barely remembers.

“I got to leave my family behind, knowing that they’re probably going to have a hard time adjusting, me not being there for them for who knows how long,” he said in an interviewwith the Detroit Free Press the night before his deportation.  “It’s just hard. It’s going to be kind of hard for me to adjust, too.”

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HUFFINGTONPOST.COM

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/deport-man-30-years_us_5a5dc32fe4b04f3c55a56e47?ncid=inblnkushpmg00000009

Trump administration eases penalties against negligent nursing homes

Reversing guidelines put in place under former President Barack Obama, the Trump administration is scaling back the use of fines against nursing homes that harm residents or place them in grave risk of injury.

The shift in the Medicare program's penalty protocols was requested by the nursing home industry. The American Health Care Association, the industry's main trade group, has complained that under Obama inspectors focused excessively on catching wrongdoing rather than helping nursing homes improve.

"It is critical that we have relief," Mark Parkinson, the group's president, wrote in a letter to then-President-elect Donald Trump in December 2016.

Since 2013, nearly 6,500 nursing homes — 4 out of every 10 — have been cited at least once for a serious violation, federal records show. Medicare has fined two-thirds of those homes. Common citations include failing to protect residents from avoidable accidents, neglect, mistreatment and bedsores.

The new guidelines discourage regulators from levying fines in some situations, even when they have resulted in a resident's death. The guidelines will also probably result in lower fines for many facilities.

The change in policy aligns with Trump's promise to reduce bureaucracy, regulation and government intervention in business.

Dr. Kate Goodrich, director of clinical standards and quality at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), said in a statement that unnecessary regulation was the main concern that health care providers raised with officials.

"Rather than spending quality time with their patients, the providers are spending time complying with regulations that get in the way of caring for their patients and doesn't increase the quality of care they provide," Goodrich said.

But advocates for nursing home residents say the revised penalties are weakening a valuable patient safety tool.

"They've pretty much emasculated enforcement, which was already weak," said Toby Edelman, a senior attorney at the Center for Medicare Advocacy.

Medicare has different ways of applying penalties. It can impose a specific fine for a particular violation. It can assess a fine for each day that a nursing home was in violation. Or it can deny payments for new admissions.

The average fine in recent years has been $33,453, but 531 nursing homes amassed combined federal fines above $100,000, records show. In 2016, Congress increased the fines to factor in several years of inflation that had not been accounted for previously.

The new rules have been instituted gradually throughout the year.

In October, CMS discouraged its regional offices from levying fines, even in the most serious health violations, if the error was a "one-time mistake." The centers said that intentional disregard for residents' health and safety or systemic errors should still merit fines.

A July memo from CMS discouraged the directors of state agencies that survey nursing homes from issuing daily fines for violations that began before an inspection, favoring one-time fines instead. Daily fines remain the recommended approach for major violations discovered during an inspection.

Dr. David Gifford, the American Health Care Association's senior vice president for quality, said daily fines were intended to prompt quick remedies but were pointless when applied to past errors that had already been fixed by the time inspectors discovered them.

"What was happening is you were seeing massive fines accumulating because they were applying them on a per-day basis retrospectively," Gifford said.

But the change means that some nursing homes could be sheltered from fines above the maximum per-instance fine of $20,965, even for egregious mistakes.

In September 2016, for instance, health inspectors faulted Lincoln Manor, a nursing home in Decatur, Illinois, for failing to monitor and treat the wound of a patient whose implanted pain-medication pump gradually slipped over eight days through a ruptured suture and protruded from her abdomen. The patient died.

CMS fined Lincoln Manor $282,954, including $10,091 a day for 28 days, from the time the nursing home noticed the problem with the wound until supervisors had retrained nurses to avoid similar errors. An administrative law judge called the penalties "quite modest" given the "appalling" care.

The fines were issued before the new guidelines took effect; if the agency had issued a one-time fine, the maximum would have been less than $21,000.

Lincoln Manor closed in September. Its owner could not be reached for comment, and his lawyer did not respond to an interview request.

Advocates for nursing home residents say that relaxing penalties threatens to undo progress at deterring wrongdoing. Janet Wells, a consultant for California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform, said the changes come as "some egregious violations and injuries to residents are being penalized — finally — at a level that gets the industry's attention and isn't just the cost of doing business."

In November, the Trump administration exempted nursing homes that violate eight new safety rules from penalties for 18 months. Homes must still follow the rules, which are intended, among other things, to reduce the overuse of psychotropic drugs and to ensure that every home has adequate resources to assist residents with major psychological problems.

Rodney Whitlock, a health policy consultant and former Republican Senate staffer, said health inspectors "are out there looking for opportunities to show that the nursing homes are not living up to some extremely tight standards." He said while the motivation for tough regulation was understandable, "the fines don't make it easier to hire people and doesn't make it easier to stay in business."

In June, CMS rescinded another Obama administration action that banned nursing homes from preemptively requiring residents to submit to arbitration to settle disputes rather than going to court.

"We publish nearly 11,000 pages of regulation every year," the agency's administrator, Seema Verma, said in a speech in October. That paperwork is "taking doctors away from what matters most: patients."

Janine Finck-Boyle, director of health regulations and policy at LeadingAge, a group of nonprofit nursing homes and other entities that care for older people, said the group's members had been struggling to cope with regulations.

"If you're a 50-bed rural facility out West or in the Dakotas," she said, "you don't have the resources to get everything done from A to Z."

 

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CNN.COM

http://money.cnn.com/2018/01/03/news/nursing-homes-trump/index.html

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