President Donald Trump is continuing to fight the importation and permanent resettlement of welfare-dependent foreign nationals within the borders of the United States. His plan to stop them from turning into public charges supported by the American taxpayers may significantly shift where legal immigrants to the country derive from.
The proposal states: “Self-sufficiency has been a basic principle of United States immigration law since this country’s earliest immigration statutes.” It remains United States policy that “the availability of public benefits does not constitute an incentive for immigration to the United States.”
Breitbart News reports:
“Currently, there is an estimated record high of 44.5 million foreign-born residents living in the U.S. This is nearly quadruple the immigrant population in 2000. The vast majority of those arriving in the country every year — more than 1.5 million annually — are low-skilled, poor or working class foreign nationals.
“About one in eight new arrivals are from Mexico, a country stricken by poverty and crime. Poor and crime-ridden regions of the world like the Caribbean, the Middle East, Central America, Sub-Saharan Africa, and South America have all increasingly made up a larger share of legal immigration to the U.S. in recent years.'”
The Trump administration is now planning to move forward with regulatory changes that could make it significantly harder for hundreds of thousands of foreign nationals currently residing within the borders of America ineligible for green cards if they use any one of a wide array of taxpayer-funded public assistance programs.
The government has traditionally considered someone who relies on government cash assistance for more than half of their income a public charge. Those who oppose benefits for non-citizens argue that restricting their access to taxpayer-funded public assistance programs has been a principle of American domestic policy since colonial times. The federal law, established in 1882 and strengthened in the early twentieth century, was that immigration officials should refuse entry to any non-citizen who appeared likely to become a “public charge” and could and should deport those who did.
The draft regulation proposes to expand the definition of “public charge” to include users of many non-cash aid programs such as food assistance and Section 8 housing vouchers. The 447-page rule, titled: “Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds,” will not apply to families making less than 15 percent of the official poverty designation, however.
The Daily Caller reports:
“The change restores the definition of public charge to its original meaning under a federal law that aims to block the admission of immigrants likely to become a drain on public resources, according to Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen.
“Under long-standing federal law, those seeking to immigrate to the United States must show they can support themselves financially,” Nielsen said in a statement. “The department takes seriously its responsibility to be transparent in its rulemaking and is welcoming public comment on the proposed rule. This proposed rule will implement a law passed by Congress intended to promote immigrant self-sufficiency and protect finite resources by ensuring that they are not likely to become burdens on American taxpayers.”
“Under the current interpretation of immigration law, non-immigrant visa holders who receive cash welfare payments are considered a public charge and are generally ineligible to adjust to permanent resident status. The same standard applies overseas — any potential immigrant who is likely to need cash assistance from the government is inadmissible.
“If the proposed regulation takes effect, immigration officers would also factor in the use of several non-cash assistance programs when making public burden determinations. Current and past use of the programs above a certain threshold would be “heavily weighed negative factor” with respect to green card adjudications, according to DHS.
“In a statement released Saturday night, DHS identified several cash and non-cash programs included in the expanded public charge definition:
“The public benefits proposed to be designated in this rule are federal, state, local, or tribal cash assistance for income maintenance, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Medicaid (with limited exceptions for Medicaid benefits paid for an “emergency medical condition,” and for certain disability services related to education), Medicare Part D Low Income Subsidy, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, or food stamps), institutionalization for long-term care at government expense, Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program, Section 8 Project-Based Rental Assistance, and Public Housing. The first three benefits listed above are cash benefits that are covered under current policy.
“The new regulation applies to both immigrant visa applicants overseas and non-immigrant visa holders already in the U.S. — including foreign students and guest workers — who want to adjust to permanent status. It will likely affect about 380,000 potential green card applicants each year, according to immigration authorities.”
Exceptions would be made for any refugees, asylum seekers, and legal immigrants who serve in the United States Armed Forces. Military service would render those individuals exempt from this new regulation. Foreign nationals that are victims of natural disasters would also be exempt, and not penalized for accepting emergency cash assistance.
Individuals and groups favoring lower levels of immigration and closed border policies applaud the proposed regulations, stating significant corrective action to current green card policy is necessary to restore order in America, as the country as a whole has strayed far from the historic definition of what constitutes a public charge.
Mark Krikorian, the executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, told The New York Times:
“This is long overdue. This country has defined public charge in a fictional way in order to facilitate high levels of low-skilled immigration. But this is simply a 21st-century definition of what public charge is.”
The Daily Caller adds:
“Immigration lawyers and migrant activist groups denounced the proposal. Many said it will force would-be immigrants to make a difficult choice between accepting critical public assistance and remaining eligible to live and work in the U.S.
“If adopted, the rule will create a nationwide health crisis impacting millions, and deter families from seeking vital medical care when they need it the most,” Adriene Holder, an attorney at the New York-based The Legal Aid Society, said in a statement. “It also would affect access by lawfully present non-citizens to basic food, housing, and other forms of support for meeting critical needs. This proposal is radical and dangerous, and wholly against our values and principles as a nation founded by immigrants.”
“A 2017 report by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine found that immigrant households use cash assistance programs at a slightly lower rate than native households — 5.5 and 6.3 percent, respectively.
“However, households headed by a legal immigrant receive non-cash assistance at a much higher rate than native households, according to a 2015 study by the Center for Immigration Studies. An estimated 36 percent of immigrant households receive food assistance and 39 percent are on Medicaid. That compares to about 22 percent of native households receiving food assistance and 23 percent enrolled in Medicaid.”