Published: Sun, September 23, 2018
People | By Leon Thompson

No more green cards for immigrants with benefits, says Trump

No more green cards for immigrants with benefits, says Trump

Federal law has historically sought to exclude immigrants who are likely to become a "public charge", but the proposed rule would expand the government's ability to deny immigrants residency or visas if they or family members benefit from aid programs, such as Medicaid Part D, a prescription drug program for the elderly and disabled; the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP); and Section 8 housing vouchers. But U.S. guidelines in place for almost two decades narrowly define "public charge" to be a person "primarily dependent on the government for subsistence", either through direct cash assistance or government-funded long-term care.

The changes would apply to those seeking visas or legal permanent residency but not people applying for US citizenship.

Trump came to power pledging to make immigration to the United States more hard, and reduce the number of people allowed to stay in the country.

In an online statement, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said the department would be seeking public comment on the proposed rule in an effort to be transparent. The proposal could make it harder for immigrants to stay in the United States if they are deemed likely to become a "public charge", in other words, a new "burden" for American taxpayers and can potentially be dependent on government assistance.

The new rules would extend those measures to non-cash benefits, such as food stamps and housing vouchers, which are considered "heavily weighed negative factors" in obtaining legal permanent status.

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If an immigrant is deemed inadmissible because of the new rule, they might be eligible to post a bond, no less than $10,000, to come into the United States.

The latest move to crack down on immigration comes days after the Trump administration told a federal court that its decision to revoke work permits to H-4 visa users, a significant majority of whom are Indian-Americans, is expected within the next three months, a move which will have a major impact on Indian women as they are the major beneficiary of the Obama-era rule.

"Today's announcement by the Trump Administration is a backdoor, administrative end-run to substantially reduce legal immigration that, if implemented, will hurt our entire country", said FWD.us President Todd Schulte.

The 447-page proposal published on the department's website will appear in the Federal Register "in the coming weeks", triggering a 60-day public comment period before it takes effect. In addition, hundreds of thousands of people living overseas obtain US permanent residence each year through the State Department, which would likely change its own regulations to match those of DHS when the proposal becomes final. Democrats and immigrant rights groups argue the rule would punish people who are entitled to benefits and legally live in the U.S.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services data show that immigrants benefit from public assistance at almost the same rate as non-immigrants, according to a draft version of the new rule, distributed by The Washington Post. Previous versions of the rule would have penalized immigrants for using those benefits.

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