US immigration law has long required officials to exclude a person likely to become a "public charge" from permanent residence.
Angering immigrant rights and economic equality advocates alike, the Trump administration has made official its proposal to deny permanent residency, or green cards, to immigrants who have used public assistance programs including nutritional or housing aid.
The Trump administration on Saturday revealed its plan to make it harder for immigrants to come to or stay in the United States if they or their family may use certain public benefits.
Immigrant advocates have criticized the administration's plan, which was first reported by Reuters in February when it was in an early draft form, saying that it is an effort to cut legal immigration without going through Congress to change USA law.
United States considers restrictions on green cards for immigrants receiving public benefits The Trump administration may deny green cards to legal immigrants, both living in the U.S. or just seeking to enter, if they have been dependent on certain public benefits, like housing vouchers, Medicaid or food stamps.
"Today's announcement by the Trump Administration is a backdoor, administrative end-run to substantially reduce legal immigration that, if implemented, will hurt our entire country", said FWD.us President Todd Schulte.
Immigrant families in the spotlight
The rule would also make non-immigrants who receive or are likely to receive designated public benefits above the designated threshold generally ineligible for change of status and extension of stay.
"This proposed rule will implement a law passed by Congress meant to promote immigrant self-sufficiency and protect finite resources by ensuring that they are not likely to become burdens on American taxpayers", Nielsen said.
That will trigger a 60-day comment period.
The new rules would extend those measures to non-cash benefits, such as food stamps and housing vouchers, which are considered "heavily weighed negative factors" in obtaining legal permanent status.
JOEL ROSE: Under the proposal, many immigrants in the country legally would still be eligible for public benefits - things like food stamps or Medicaid prescription drug coverage. "For at least a century, US law has sought to exclude immigrants who are likely to become a "public charge.' And the Trump administration says it is simply enforcing that law", Rose said".
Concerns about public dependency were a significant factor in shaping the current US immigration model's emphasis on family reunification and requirements that newcomers have sponsors to assume financial responsibility for them. Nevertheless, the proposed rule is set to have a widespread effect; the New York Times cited government data estimating the new rule will affect 382,000 people each year. The existing version of the rule only lists specific monetary benefits. Olivia Golden, executive director of the Center for Law and Social Policy, said there is no research support to justify the administration's proposal, which she said would "leave the nation hungrier, sicker and poorer".