News / USA

    Debt Ceiling Crisis Worries Immigrants

    Adam Phillips
    A government shutdown that dragged on for weeks, political bickering, and uncertainty over the nation's financial stability have alarmed many immigrants living in the United States. 

    The government shutdown came as a shock to many clients at African Services Committee, a Harlem-based nonprofit organization that offers health services along with social and legal assistance to the African diaspora in New York.  Attorney Claire R. Thomas often represents African immigrants seeking asylum from political chaos in their home countries.

    “The idea that there is this debt crisis, that everything could blow up is really unsettling, and really scary for them that the same thing that’s been happening in their country is going to happen here to this great power, the United States, and just shock that this could happen here as well,” said Thomas.

    The toxic political atmosphere in Washington affected Thomas’ clients in other ways as well. The shutdown meant the cancellation or postponement of many asylum hearings, and some lawmakers continue to threaten to curtail many federal benefits for the poor. 

    “Federal benefits right now… are being drastically cut.  So you have that whole uncertainty over ‘I don’t know when my check is going to come. ‘I don’t know how I am going to pay my rent. ‘I don’t know how I am going to survive,’” explained Thomas.

    Finances are also a major issue for millions of immigrants who send money to families back in their home countries, according to Matiusko Florentino, whose storefront business specializes in international person-to-person money transfers.
    Florentino says that if America were to default on its financial commitments, its economy would spiral downwards and the dollar would decline in value, which would hurt many immigrants' families back home.

    “The result could be catastrophic. If the United States doesn’t do good, the rest of Latin America will not do good. People back in, especially the [Dominican Republic], where I’m from, depend on how good their relatives do in America and the strength of the dollar. People sustain their family from the money they bring back home. And if nothing happens, people don’t have nothing to eat.  I hope all the problems can get solved, so the economy can get back to the right path,” said Florentino.

    Savneet Singh, an employee of GBI, an international precious metals firm based in New York, says uncertainty over the U.S. economy and global financial markets boosted interest in acquiring gold, especially among Indian- and Chinese-Americans.   

    “In emerging markets where you’ve had everything from bombs dropped to governments collapsing to high inflation, the concept of owning something hard and real is ingrained into their culture.  So I can say, ‘Hey, I love Google stock or Microsoft stock or Exxon stock’ now.  But will I bet that it will still exist in 300 years? Maybe.  But will I bet that gold will still exist? I am pretty sure I can bet on that. So the idea is just to have something you know will keep its value and protect you in bouts of extreme inflation or bad governance,” explained Singh.

    Singh also said Americans are increasing their gold purchases because gold is seen as a safe place to keep money in troubled times. 

    While political bickering in Washington worries immigrants, economists say it also unnerves investors, companies and ordinary consumers who are less likely to spend or invest, which can further slow economic growth.

    You May Like

    Multimedia Obama Calls on Americans to Help the Families of Its War Dead

    In last Memorial Day of his presidency, Obama lays wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery

    The Strife of the Party: Will Trump Permanently Alter Republicans?

    While billionaire mogul's no-holds-barred style, high-energy delivery are what rocketed him to nomination, they also have created rift between party elites and his supporters

    China's Education Reforms Spark Protest

    Beijing is putting a quota system in place to increase the number of students from poor regions attending universities

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora