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The Trump administration published a regulation that could dramatically reduce the amount of legal immigrants permitted to enter and remain in the U.S. by making it simpler to dismiss requests for green cards and visas.
Paired with last week’s enforcement raids in Mississippi for food processing plants, Monday’s announcement amounts to the administration’s concerted attempt to curb legal immigration and crack down on illegal immigration.
The rule implies that many candidates for green cards and visas could be turned down if they have low incomes or little education, and have used advantages such as most types of Medicaid, food stamps, and housing vouchers, as they would be considered more likely to need future public support.
It will encourage “self-reliance and self-sufficiency for those seeking to come to or stay in the United States,” said Ken Cuccinelli, Director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, appearing in the White House briefing room. However, doing so will probably make it more difficult for low-income immigrants to come to the US.
When questioned if the law unfairly targets low-income immigrants, Cuccinelli said: “We certainly expect people of any income to be able to stand on their own two feet, so if people are not able to be self-sufficient, than this negative factor is going to bear very heavily against them in a decision about whether they’ll be able to become a legal permanent resident.”
According to the Department of Homeland Security, the 837-page law refers to those wishing to arrive or stay in the United States via legal channels and is anticipated to affect approximately 382,000 individuals wishing to modify their immigration.
Under the current regulations introduced in 1996, the term “public charge” is defined as someone who is “primarily dependent” on government aid, meaning that it provides more than half of their income. But it only counted money advantages like Temporary Assistance for Needy Families or Social Security Supplementary Security Income.
Officials can take the economic resources, health, education, abilities, family status and age of an applicant into consideration. But on these comparatively small basis, few individuals are dismissed, specialists said.
Immigrant proponents have asserted that the law goes beyond what Congress intended and discriminates against those from richer nations, keeping families apart and prompting legal inhabitants to forgo the public assistance they required, which could also affect their U.S. citizens ‘ kids.
They also said it would penalize even hard-working immigrants who need only a little bit of government temporary assistance.
“The rule reflects a dark vision of the United States — as an unwelcoming nation that wants to keep out people who seek to join their family, work hard, and climb the economic ladder — based on the erroneous assumption that they won’t contribute to our communities, our economy, and our nation,” stated Robert Greenstein, president of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
The proposal was immediately slammed by democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke:
Legal. Undocumented. Refugee. Asylum Seeker. The distinctions don’t matter to President Trump. If you’re an immigrant, he believes you have no place in this country—even though, for 243 years, immigrants have made America the greatest nation the world has ever known. https://t.co/k3eiud9vT2
— Beto O’Rourke (@BetoORourke) August 12, 2019
This regulation will have the “deepest, widest and most long term impact” of all immigration policies implemented by the Trump administration, said Monday’s National Immigration Law Center executive director Marielena Hincapié, adding that her organization and others are preparing to bring a lawsuit over the regulation.
Exceptions to the rule include benefits received by the military’s active duty member, Medicaid for pregnant women, children under the age of 21, and emergency medical care.
The law also does not affect asylum seekers or refugees.
President Donald Trump also released a memorandum earlier this year doubling on an existing law requiring sponsors of immigrants to assume economic accountability for certain income-based public advantages that immigrants receive. Whether enforcing the law would create a significant distinction is uncertain.
Undocumented immigrants would not be affected — unless they have opened an avenue to apply for green cards or visas as they are largely unable to receive public assistance.
Regulation on Monday is likely to encounter legal difficulties, but it may still lead some who fear punishment to change their daily life.
The rule includes immigrants who, within a 36-month period, use one or more designated public benefits for 12 months. Each advantage is counted individually, which means it will count as two months if two advantages are used in a month. The rule will come into force on October 15.