U.S. considers restrictions on green cards for immigrants receiving public benefits

Remigio Civitarese
Settembre 24, 2018

"Under long-standing federal law, those seeking to immigrate to the United States must show they can support themselves financially", said Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen.

If the rule survives widely expected legal changes, it could mark a sea change that allows far more immigrants to be rejected from the USA or force them to choose to forgo benefits that they or family members would otherwise be eligible to receive.

"The department takes seriously its responsibility to be transparent in its rulemaking and is welcoming public comment on the proposed rule". That ruling, known as a "public charge", began in the 1800s as a way to deny immigrants entry to the United States if they were likely to become a drain on the economy.

The proposed rule announced by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on Saturday could make immigrants seeking to enter the United States ineligible for visas or green cards if they are deemed likely to receive certain public benefits once they come to the country, reports CNN. "This proposed rule change will similarly result in the separation of families and is just the latest assault on immigrant families".

It would create a subjective criteria and overly-bureaucratic process when making a public charge determination.

Expressing its opposition to the proposed rule, FWD.US, which represents companies like Facebook, Microsoft, Dropbox, Yahoo and Google, said it "is a backdoor" administrative end-run to substantially reduce legal immigration that, if implemented, will hurt the entire country.

The proposed public charge rule is nothing less than a public disgrace – and a direct attack on the health, housing, and economic security of American children, said Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti.

There is possibility of changes in the proposed rule before it is being promulgated.

But the DHS plan would broaden the government's ability to deny visas and residency if immigrants or members of their family receive Medicaid Part D, Section 8 housing vouchers, or benefits under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. Taking advantage of public benefits currently or in the past will now be a "heavily weighed negative factor" in immigration applications.

The proposed regulation from the Department of Homeland Security would instruct immigration officers to consider whether a person has received a range of taxpayer-funded benefits to which they are legally entitled in determining whether a potential immigrant is likely to become a public burden.

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