Trump Administration Targets Immigrants on Public Assistance

Trump administration seeks to limit access to U.S. for immigrants who use or are likely to use public assistance

US Agency Proposes Curb on Immigrants Seeking Public Assistance

The rules, which run to nearly 450 pages, would make non-immigrants who receive or are considered likely to receive designated public benefits above a designated threshold ineligible for a change of status - such as the granting of a green card - and extension of stay in the US. The plan, announced Saturday by the Department of Homeland Security, is created to scale back dependence on programs such as housing vouchers and food subsidies.

When it comes to deciding how likely a prospective immigrant is to use these benefits, the government could consider any number of listed criteria.

USA immigration laws already have provisions to limit the influx of people likely to be dependent on financial assistance programs.

The Trump administration on Saturday proposed a rule that immigrants who are in the United States legally, as well as those wanting to come to the country, may be denied visas or green cards if they have ever used public assistance.

The rule comes on top of other Trump administration policies that have affected the lives of immigrants across the country, including the decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, the administration's "travel ban" restricting immigrants and visitors from certain countries and the "zero tolerance" policy that resulted in thousands of immigrant children being separated from their families. The proposed rule will also affect changes in the legal status of immigrants.

Legal immigrants could be denied a green card, which grants permanent residency, if they have received certain government assistance which they were legally allowed to access.

If a foreigner is receiving one or more of the public benefits laid out in the proposal when they apply for a visa or residency, that would be a heavily weighed negative factor in their determining their eligibility to come to or remain in the United States.

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

According to the rule, immigrants who "seek adjustment of status or a visa, or who are applicants for admission, must establish that they are not likely at any time to become a public charge" unless determined by Congress, PTI reported.

The document is to be issued in the Federal Register in the coming weeks, DHS says.

Potentially disqualifying benefits include Medicare Part D prescription drugs, Medicaid with some exceptions for emergency services and disability services related to education, food stamps and Section 8 housing vouchers.

People have 60 day-time to comment on the proposed rule, which will mainly impact legal immigrants as illegal immigrants are not eligible for any government benefits.

"How you contribute to your community - and not what you look like or the contents of your wallet - should be what matters most", she said in a statement.

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.

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