Trump administration boosts ability to deny green cards to immigrants using welfare programs

Trump administration boosts ability to deny green cards to immigrants using welfare programs
Donald Trump by Gage Skidmore is licensed under Wiki Commons Wiki Commons

The Trump administration on Monday issued a long-awaited rule strengthening the ability of federal officials to deny green cards to immigrants deemed likely to rely on government aid.

Officials described the so-called "public charge" rule as a way to ensure those granted permanent residency are self-sufficient -- and protect taxpayers in the process.

“The principle driving it is an old American value, and that’s self-sufficiency,” U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Acting Director Ken Cuccinelli told Fox News in an interview. “It’s a core principle -- the American Dream itself -- and it’s one of the things that distinguishes us, and it's central to the legal history in the U.S. back into the 1800s.”

“It will also have the long-term benefit of protecting taxpayers by ensuring people who are immigrating to this country don’t become public burdens, that they can stand on their own two feet, as immigrants in years past have done,” he said. “It’s not only a recipe for their success, but for America’s success growing out of our immigration system.”

The updated rule will better define, and expand, the factors that can be considered to deny an applicant on these grounds.

While the “public charge” inadmissibility standard has long been part of U.S. immigration law, the term has not been formally defined in statute. The new rule, which will go into effect in October, will define “public charge” as an immigrant who receives one or more designated public benefits for more than 12 months within a 36-month period.

Those benefits include Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), as well as most forms of Medicaid and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) -- commonly known as food stamps. The rule expands the number of benefits that can be considered from interim guidance issued in 1999.

Those factors will be considered along with standard considerations such as age, health, financial assets and education. While Cuccinelli's USCIS is the lead agency, similar filters will be used at the State Department (for those applying for visas from abroad) and Border Patrol.


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Donald Trump by Gage Skidmore is licensed under Wiki Commons Wiki Commons

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