President Donald Trump announced on Monday that it will begin to take aggressive steps to restrict legal immigration by denying green cards to those who use Medicaid, food stamps, housing vouchers, and other forms of public assistance.
While this is nothing new, as a “public charge” federal law already requires people who want to become permanent residents of the U.S. to prove they will not be a burden, Trump’s new rules include a much larger range of government programs that could disqualify immigrants from receiving a green light on their green card status.
The Trump administration has made no secret that they want a complete overhaul of the immigration system in the U.S., and they have worked hard to do just that, despite the challenges from the opposition. Most of the efforts of the president have been focused on restricting the serious illegal immigration crisis, but Trump’s new rules are created to target those who have temporarily entered the U.S. legally, and are currently seeking permanent status. With the new rules in place, current legal immigrants who are proving to be a burden on the U.S. will be denied.
The goal of the administration is to change the U.S. immigration system that is focused more on immigrants’ skills rather than emphasizing the reunification of families. The new rules allow U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to consider whether green card applicants have required assistance from our government in the form of public assistance. It will also let them weigh other factors like education, income, and health status to help in determining whether to grant legal residency status on an individual basis.
The new rules are set to go into in October and do not apply to U.S. citizens, but they do apply to any immigrants that are related to the citizens.
The acting director of Citizenship and Immigration Services, Ken Cuccinelli, said the change will help to ensure that those who migrate to the U.S. won’t become a burden.
“We want to see people coming to this country who are self-sufficient,” Cuccinelli said. “That’s a core principle of the American dream. It’s deeply embedded in our history, and particularly our history related to legal immigration.”
Around 544,000 migrants apply for green cards every year in the U.S. Almost 400,000 of those would be subject to the new rules and review. The government guidelines, which have been in effect since 1999, considers a “public charge” to be someone “primarily dependent on cash assistance, income maintenance or government support.”
The new rules, however, have been redefined by the Department of Homeland Security, and they now consider a public charge to be someone who is “more likely than not” to receive public benefits for more than 12 months within a 36-month period. In addition, the definition of the law has been expanded to include Medicaid, housing assistance, and the food assistance program currently known as SNAP.
There will be exceptions to the rule, though, for example, women who are pregnant will not be subject to the new rules during pregnancy as well as an additional 60 days after giving birth. In addition, the Medicare Part D low-income subsidy will not be considered a public benefit for green card purposes, nor will the benefits for children until the age of 21. Other exceptions include medical assistance, homeless shelters, foster care or adoption, student loans and mortgages, school lunch programs, food pantries, or disaster relief. Those who are active in the U.S. military are also exempt, along with refugees and those seeking asylum.