WASHINGTON (AP) - The Trump administration is moving forward with one of its most aggressive steps yet to restrict legal immigration, denying green cards to many migrants who use Medicaid, food stamps, housing vouchers or other forms of public assistance, officials said announced Monday.
Federal law already requires those seeking to become permanent residents and gain legal status to prove they will not be a burden to the U.S. - a “public charge,” in government speak -but the new rules detail a broader range of programs that could disqualify them.
It’s part of a dramatic overhaul of the nation’s immigration system that the administration has been trying to put into place. While much of the attention has focused on President Donald Trump’s efforts to crack down on illegal immigration, the new change targets people who entered the United States legally and are seeking permanent status. Its part of an effort to move the U.S. to a system that focuses on immigrants’ skills instead of emphasizing the reunification of families.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services will now weigh public assistance along with other factors such as education, household income and health to determine whether to grant legal status.
The rules will take effect in mid-October. They don’t apply to U.S. citizens, even if the U.S. citizen is related to an immigrant who is subject to them.
The acting director of Citizenship and Immigration Services, Ken Cuccinelli, said the rule change fits with the Republican president’s message.
“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.”
Migrants make up a small percentage of those who get public benefits. In fact, many are ineligible for public benefits because of their immigration status.