Published: Tue, September 25, 2018
Global News | By Blake Casey

Trump proposes considering public benefit use in immigration applications

Trump proposes considering public benefit use in immigration applications

These benefits include public housing, healthcare and food stamps.

US immigration laws have long contained provisions limiting foreigners who are likely to be dependent on financial aid and therefore a "public charge".

The public benefits proposed to be designated in this rule are federal, state, local, or tribal cash assistance for income maintenance, temporary assistance for needy families, supplemental security income, medicaid (with limited exceptions for Medicaid benefits paid for an "emergency medical condition", and for certain disability services related to education), medicare part D low income subsidy, and the supplemental nutrition assistance programme.

The DHS will, by law, have to review those comments before finalising the regulation.

Speaking to the Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen, Reuters reported that "Under the long-standing federal law, those seeking to immigrate to the United States must show they can support themselves financially".

"This would force families - including citizen children - to choose between getting the help they need and remaining in their communities", said Diane Yentel, president of the National Low Income Housing Coalition.

Immigration supporters will likely view the plan as another way the Trump administration is attempting to thwart legal immigration.

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But according to census data, the foreign-born percentage of the US population is "at its highest level in more than a century", the Washington Post reported.

DHS estimated the rule would affect just over 382,200 immigrants applying to adjust their status to lawful permanent residents each year. They also believe the rule could negatively affect public health by dissuading immigrants from using health or food aid to which they or their children are entitled.

People have 60 day-time to comment on the proposed rule, which will mainly impact legal immigrants as illegal immigrants are not eligible for any government benefits.

The Trump administration has been anti-immigrant from the beginning, with Donald Trump attacking Mexican immigrants in the very first speech in his campaign. Certain categories of immigrants, including refugees, asylees, and Afghans and Iraqis with special immigrant visas would be exempt from the changes, according to DHS.

On Saturday, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) listed a wide range of benefits which, if claimed, could disqualify U.S. immigrants seeking visas or green cards, or prevent immigrants already in the USA from changing their legal status. The proposal would also allow some of those who are facing rejection to post cash bonds of $10,000 or more, and the bonds would have to be provided through a government-approved company.

Immigrants applying for green cards are already required to prove they will not become a so-called "public charge", with receipt of cash benefits considered.

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