The Trump administration is moving forward with regulations that are expected to dramatically reshape the U.S. immigration system by denying green cards and visas to immigrants who use — or are expected to use — a wide range of federal, state and local government benefits, including food stamps, housing vouchers and Medicaid.
By Pam Fessler & Joel Rose
The final version of the “public charge” rule, which has been a top priority for immigration hard-liners in the White House, is set to be published in the Federal Register on Wednesday.
Ken Cuccinelli, the acting director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, announced the move Monday morning. He said the purpose is to clarify existing law, which is designed to ensure that immigrants do not become dependent on the government.
“Through the public charge rule, President Trump’s administration is reenforcing the ideal of self-sufficiency and personal responsibility, ensuring that immigrants are able to support themselves and become successful in America,” he said.
The rule is set to take effect in 60 days but is expected to draw legal challenges from immigrant-rights groups and others.
“A cruel new step”
A preliminary draft published last year drew more than 260,000 comments. Many of the comments expressed outrage that the administration would penalize immigrants for using benefits that they are legally entitled to receive. The change is seen as part of a broader administration effort to limit both immigration and the overall use of public benefits.
Immigrant advocates immediately denounced the final rule, which they say could hurt millions of immigrants already living in the U.S. as well as their citizen children. They say it could also sharply curtail legal immigration, especially when coupled with tough new State Department standards that take the likelihood of an immigrant’s use of public benefits into account when granting visas.