August 14, 2019
President George Washington, known to this day as “the father of our country,” famously said, “The bosom of America is open to receive not only the Opulent and respected Stranger, but the oppressed and persecuted of all Nations and Religions; whom we shall welcome to a participation of all our rights and privileges ….”
However, now, that welcome mat is being pulled out from under the feet of both legal and illegal immigrants by the Trump administration, which on August 12 rolled out a sweeping rule that targets every newcomer who needs welfare benefits such as food stamps and government-subsidized housing.
According to a report by CBS News, the new regulation from the Department of Homeland Security would block the entry of any immigrants who would rely on a “public charge” or “public benefit” to provide the necessities of life.
Detailed in a more than 800-page document, the new regulation would dramatically expand the government’s definition of the centuries-old term “public charge,” effectively making it more difficult for certain low-income immigrants to secure permanent residency or temporary visas. The final and enforceable version of the rule is scheduled to be officially published on the Federal Register on August 14 and slated to go into effect in October.
The rule affects most aspects of life for immigrants — from medical care and English language proficiency, to food stamps and other welfare programs, according to the network news outlet.
Ken Cuccinelli, the acting director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the DHS agency that administers benefits for immigrants, touted the change as a way to promote “self-sufficiency” and “success” among immigrant communities.
“Through the public charge rule, President Trump’s administration is re-enforcing the ideals of self-sufficiency and personal responsibility ensuring immigrants are able to support themselves and become successful here in America,” Cuccinelli told reporters at the White House on Monday.
Immigration authorities currently ask green card applicants to prove they won’t be a burden on the country, but the new regulation, if enacted, would require caseworkers to consider the use of government housing, food and medical assistance such as the widely used Section 8 housing vouchers and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
The rule would subject immigrant households that fall below certain income thresholds to the “public charge” test—which would also consider how well applicants speak, read and write English. Under the proposed rule, any diagnosed medical condition that requires extensive medical treatment would also “weigh heavily” in evaluations by caseworkers.
Asylum seekers and refugees would be exempt from this “public charge” test.
When the 60-day public comment window on the proposed rule closed last December, more than 260,000 comments had been sent to the Trump administration— nearly all of them, critical of the new regulation. However, those comments have not been considered in the creation of the rule.
Although the proposal does not include Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) assistance in its “public charge” considerations, researchers at the Health Policy Center believe immigrant parents, particularly in Latino and Asian American communities, will drop these benefits due to concerns surrounding their immigration status and ability to remain in the U.S. legally with their children.
Their only hope? As soon as the final rule was unveiled, several groups vowed to file lawsuits to try to block it, CBS News reported.
Research contact: @CBSNews