The Trump administration proposed expanding its pre-election crackdown on immigration by denying green cards to legal immigrants if they have received government assistance.
Under the new rule, which the Department of Homeland Security posted online Saturday, immigrants can be denied so-called “lawful permanent residency” if they’ve received certain government benefits — or if the government anticipates that they may do so in the future.
The measure represents the latest move by White House aide Stephen Miller to reduce drastically all immigration to the U.S., both legal and illegal, and reflects his strong conviction that doing so will improve congressional Republicans’ chances in the midterm elections.
The New York Times reports:
The move could force millions of poor immigrants who rely on public assistance for food and shelter to make a difficult choice between accepting financial help and seeking a green card to live and work legally in the United States.
Older immigrants, many of whom get low-cost prescription drugs through the Medicare Part D program, could also be forced to stop participating in the popular benefits program or risk being deemed a “public charge” who is ineligible for legal resident status.
The Department of Homeland Security said in a press release that the proposal was aimed at protecting taxpayers, but advocates for immigrant rights say they would force thousands to choose between staying in the country and receiving public assistance.
“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 the statement. Nielsen said the 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.”
The regulation would consider immigrants who use public benefits a “heavily weighed negative factor” to determine those applying to remain in the country permanently “generally ineligible for change of status and extension of stay,” according to the DHS news release.