Published 10:39 AM EDT Aug 12, 2019
WASHINGTON – The Donald Trump administration formally proposed a new rule Monday that would enable federal officials to deny green cards to migrants if officials believe the recipients will receive public benefits like food stamps, Medicaid, or housing vouchers.
“To protect benefits for American citizens, immigrants must be financially self-sufficient,” President Donald Trump said in a statement issued by the White House.
The rule, which would take effect on Oct. 15, would basically allow customs and immigration officers to consider public assistance in deciding whether to grant legal assistance, along with other facts like health, education, and household income.
Critics have accused the Trump administration of seeking to reduce the number of legal immigrants through what the government calls a “public charge” rule. They also accused the administration of targeting poor people and legal immigrants are seeking to gain a foothold in the U.S. economy.
In a tweet, the National Immigration Law Center described the proposal as “a race motivated wealth test on immigrant families seeking a healthy, stable future in the US. If this goes into effect, it would have a devastating impact on millions. We WILL fight back. Stay tuned for updates.”
Ken Cuccinelli, acting director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, said the purpose of the rule is to promote “self-sufficiency” among the immigrant population.
“Through the public charge rule, President Trump’s administration is re-enforcing the ideals of self-sufficiency and personal responsibility, ensuring that immigrants are able to support themselves and become successful here in America,” he said.
Asked about the impact on the poor, Cuccinelli said: “We certainly expect people of any income to be able to stand on their own two feet.”
Earlier this year, the Trump administration instructed agencies to enforce a 23-year-old law that requires sponsors of green card holders to reimburse the government for welfare benefits.