DHS to deny visas, green cards to immigrants if public assistance used

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USA immigrants who get public benefits like food stamps or housing vouchers could be denied green cards, under a new proposal from President Donald Trump's administration. 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.

USA immigration law has long required officials to exclude a person likely to become a "public charge" from permanent residence.

Marielena Hincapie, executive director of the National Immigration Law Centre, called the plan "another cruel step" by the Trump administration.

The rule is a vast expansion of existing interpretations of what is considered a "public charge", or someone dependent or likely to become dependent on government.

In an online statement, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said the department would be seeking public comment on the proposed rule in an effort to be transparent. She added that "This proposed rule will implement a law passed by Congress meant to promote immigrant self-sufficiency and protect finite resources by ensuring that they are not likely to become burdens on American taxpayers". "This proposed rule does the opposite and makes clear that the Trump administration continues to prioritize money over family unity by ensuring that only the wealthiest can afford to build a future in this country".

"This policy will cost the United States in the long run by limiting the contributions of hardworking immigrants who could become legal residents, and no one is better off because of it", FWD.us president Todd Schulte said.

Immigration activists claimed the rule would hurt the country in the long run.

The proposed public charge rule is nothing less than a public disgrace - and a direct attack on the health, housing, and economic security of American children, said Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti.

As of April, there were 632,219 Indian immigrants and their spouses and minor children waiting for green cards. Previous versions of the rule would have penalized immigrants for using those benefits.

There is possibility of changes in the proposed rule before it is being promulgated. "For at least a century, USA law has sought to exclude immigrants who are likely to become a "public charge.' And the Trump administration says it is simply enforcing that law", Rose said".

Availing of these public benefits above "certain thresholds" would be considered as "a heavily weighed negative factor".

The proposed regulation from the Department of Homeland Security would instruct immigration officers to consider whether a person has received a range of taxpayer-funded benefits to which they are legally entitled in determining whether a potential immigrant is likely to become a public burden.

But the DHS plan would broaden the government's ability to deny visas and residency if immigrants or members of their family receive Medicaid Part D, Section 8 housing vouchers, or benefits under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

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