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TRUMP ADMINISTRATION MAY TARGET IMMIGRANTS WHO USE FOOD AID, OTHER BENEFITS

February 15, 2018

 

A lot of discussion is making rounds regarding chain migration and cut down on legal immigration. The White House and Trump administration have time and again raised their concern about chain migration and have requested congress to cancel this legislation.

 

There are several reasons behind this. One of the most important is that foreign nationals who seek legal permanent resident status are dependent on taxpayer funded public benefits. These benefits include subsidy on utility bills, health insurance premiums, etc.

 

These benefit programs are designed to help American citizens overcome falling into poverty by seeking assistance to support themselves and their families when they are making low earnings and also during retirement.

 

Reports demonstrate that Non-citizens who receive public benefits are not self-sufficient and are relying on the U.S. government and state and local entities for resources instead of their families, sponsors or private organizations. These is the reason why foreign nationals seek to immigrate to the U.S.

 

These public benefits are primarily funded by the tax payers. And it is unfair for those who pay taxes to bear the burden of benefits for such foreign national turned immigrants.

 

The Trump administration has suggested that once foreign nationals obtain LPR or citizenship, they also become eligible to seek public benefits. However, many of such individuals have never contributed to the US economy. The question raised here is that then why should they be eligible to take such benefits.

 

The Department of Homeland Security has drafted rules that would allow immigration officers to scrutinize a potential immigrant’s use of certain taxpayer-funded public benefits to determine if they could become a public burden.

 

For example, U.S. officials could look at whether the applicant has enrolled a child in government pre-school programs or received subsidies for utility bills or health insurance premiums.

 

The draft rules are a sharp departure from current guidelines, which have been in place since 1999 and specifically bar authorities from considering such non-cash benefits in deciding a person’s eligibility to immigrate to the United States or stay in the country.

 

The administration is committed to enforcing immigration laws which primarily protect American taxpayer.

 

U.S. immigration law has long required officials to exclude a person likely to become a “public charge” from permanent residence. But current U.S. guidelines, in place since 1999, narrowly define “public charge” to be a person “primarily dependent on the government for subsistence,” either through direct cash assistance or government-funded long-term care.

 

Current guidance instructs immigration officers to look at a narrow range of public benefits in trying to determine whether someone is likely to become a burden, specifically directing officers not to consider most non-cash benefits, such as government food assistance programs or preschool programs.

 

The new rules, if adopted in their current form, would significantly change these guidelines. Under the draft rules, a person would be considered a “public charge” if they depend on “any government assistance in the form of cash, checks or other forms of money transfers, or instrument and non-cash government assistance in the form of aid, services, or other relief,”.

 

The rule wouldn’t make it illegal for immigrants to use public services that are open to everyone regardless of immigration status, or that are available to their US-born children. But it would make it possible for the government to deny their applications for a new type of visa, or a green card, if they’d used those services. In other words, it could force them to choose between taking advantage of available social services, and their family’s future ability to stay in the United States permanently.

 

If approved and finalized, the regulation would vastly expand the federal government’s power to bar an immigrant from entering the United States, obtaining a new visa, or becoming a lawful permanent resident (green-card holder) by labeling the immigrant a likely “public charge.”

 

Right now, the government can only consider use of cash benefits, like Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, in “public charge” determinations. The Trump administration wants to give officials the power to look at use of other benefits as well, including:

  • some “educational benefits,” including use of Head Start for children

  • Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP)

  • use of any subsidies, or purchase of subsidized insurance, under the Affordable Care Act

  • food stamps

  • Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) assistance

  • Housing benefits, like Section 8

  • Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)

  • transit vouchers

 

Using any of these for more than six months in the last two years (before applying for a different visa or a green card) would be considered a “heavily weighted” strike against the immigrant. (That strike could be canceled out if an immigrant was making more than 250 percent of the federal poverty level when applying for the new visa or green card — which, for a family of 4 in 2017, was $60,750.)

 

For latest news and updates on immigration, please visit www.emandilaw.com.

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