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Monday, August 12, 2019

Trump Administration Approves Policy to DETER Immigrants' Use of WELFARE

In this June 15, 2019, file photo, migrants cross the Rio Grande illegally to surrender to the American authorities on the U.S.-Mexico border between Ciudad Juarez and El Paso. El Paso has swiftly become one of the busiest corridors for illegal border crossings in the U.S. after years as one of the sleepiest. (AP Photo/Christian Torres, File)
In this June 15, 2019, file photo, migrants cross the Rio Grande illegally to surrender to the American authorities on the U.S.-Mexico border between Ciudad Juarez and El Paso. El Paso has swiftly become one of the busiest corridors for illegal border crossings in the U.S. after years as one of the sleepiest. (AP Photo/Christian Torres, File)


Stephen Dinan

The Trump administration finalized a new “public charge” rule Monday to penalize immigrants’ use of welfare programs when deciding whether to grant them permanent status in the U.S.
It will likely have to survive court challenges, but if it remains in effect it could fundamentally alter the way migrants approach their use of U.S. public assistance programs, and the way U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services evaluates their applications.
“This is really an example of President Trump enforcing long-standing law that required people coming to the country or that wanted to be here long-term to be self-reliant,” acting USCIS Director Ken Cuccinelli told The Washington Times. “That self-sufficiency is a core American value and it is central to the purpose of this rule.”
The new plan, which spanned 837 pages, will take effect for applications filed after Oct. 15.
It will apply to about 400,000 applications a year from migrants seeking to adjust their status to a more permanent legal situation in the U.S. — which in most instances will mean someone applying for a green card.

 Under the new rules, when someone files an application, the USCIS officer reviewing the case will look at the person’s history of access to public programs such as food stamps, many forms of Medicaid, public housing assistance, welfare cash payments and Supplemental Security Income.
Emergency medical care, the school lunch program, student loans, energy assistance, homeless shelter access and children’s health insurance will not count against a migrant, USCIS said.
Mr. Cuccinelli said taking a benefit won’t automatically disqualify someone, but rather it could be a “heavily weighted factor” factor the USCIS officer considers in making a decision about whether to grant the green card.
“There isn’t a formula,” he said. “It is intended to be a case-by-case determination.”
Being denied a green card doesn’t make someone deportable. They will remain in whatever status they had before.
Immigrant-rights activists have been preparing for the change and last week, with the announcement looming, criticized the government for pushing ahead, calling it an anti-immigrant policy.
“The Trump administration’s so-called ‘public charge rule’ is a flimsy pretext to close America’s door to middle and working-class immigrants,” said David Leopold, a prominent immigration lawyer. “Simply put, there’s no problem to be fixed.”
Analysts have long debated how much welfare immigrants use.
By law, illegal immigrants are barred from most public assistance, though emergency benefits are available, and children or other relatives of illegal immigrants are often entitled to benefits that do help the entire family.
Legal immigrants are generally barred from most welfare programs for the first five years of permanent residency.
Still, thanks to access for children or other relatives, 63% of non-citizen households use at least one welfare program, according to the Center for Immigration Studies.
The concept that immigrants be self-sufficient has been part of U.S. law dating back to the late 1800s. The law was most recently updated in 1996, with stiff new requirements imposed.
The Clinton administration promised to write rules for carrying out the law, and issued interim guidance — but never followed through with the rules. Immigration enforcement advocates have long complained that the Clinton-era guidance gave too much leeway for migrants to use public welfare programs.
Stiffening that system has been a major goal for the Trump administration.
In May, Mr. Trump ordered federal agencies to demand payback to the federal treasury from people who sponsored migrants who later landed on the public dole.

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