Washington: The US may deny green cards to immigrants who’ve legally used or seem likely to use a range of public benefits, including food assistance or housing vouchers, under new rules announced by the Trump administration on Saturday.
The proposal, “Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds," will be posted in the Federal Register in the coming weeks and subject to a 60-day public comment period.
It broadens a 1999 rule that sought to withhold green cards from immigrants deemed likely to become dependent on government cash assistance, to for the first time include non-cash programs.
It’s the latest move by President Donald Trump to crack down on immigration, both legal and illegal. Earlier this month, the US announced it would cap the number of refugees admitted to the US in 2019 at 30,000, the lowest ceiling since Washington created a refugee program almost four decades ago.
“This proposed rule will implement a law passed by Congress intended to promote immigrant self-sufficiency and protect finite resources by ensuring that they are not likely to become burdens on American taxpayers," Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said in a statement.
The rules, which run to almost 450 pages, would make non-immigrants who receive or are considered likely to receive designated public benefits above a designated threshold ineligible for a change of status — such as the granting of a green card — and extension of stay in the US.
The use of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, often known as food stamps, and Section 8 housing assistance would be among the benefits considered. And older immigrants may be forced to stop participating in programs like Medicare Part D low-income subsidy, which makes available discounted prescription drugs, or risk being deemed a “public charge" and thus ineligible for legal resident status.
Some immigrants may be asked to post cash bonds to avoid being denied green cards until the new regulations, the New York Times reported earlier.
The administration estimated the regulations would affect about 382,000 people a year. Immigrants who already have green cards — legal permanent residents -- wouldn’t be swept up in the changes for now.
“The United States continues to be a global leader in humanitarian protection," DHS said in a press release.