Published: Wed, September 26, 2018
Global Media | By Garry Long

USA proposes blocking visas for those using public benefits

USA proposes blocking visas for those using public benefits

Immigrants who receive more than $1,821 annually, 15 percent of the Federal Poverty Guidelines, in benefits that can be monetized would also be disqualified from receiving green cards and visas.

US immigration laws already have provisions to limit the influx of people likely to be dependent on financial assistance programs.

The Trump administration has proposed rules that could deny green cards to immigrants if they use Medicaid, food stamps, housing vouchers and other forms of public assistance.

Just last week, the Trump administration announced that it would limit the number of refugees admitted into the United States in fiscal year 2019 to 30,000, which would be the lowest number in more than 38 years.

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In making this determination, the DHS is proposing to consider current and past receipt of designated public benefits above certain thresholds as a heavily weighed negative factor. That ruling, known as a "public charge", began in the 1800s as a way to deny immigrants entry to the United States if they were likely to become a drain on the economy.

In a press release accompanying the proposed rule, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said the rule is meant to "promote immigrant self-sufficiency and protect finite resources by ensuring that they are not likely to become burdens on American taxpayers".

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"Under long-standing federal law, those seeking to immigrate to the United States must show they can support themselves financially", DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said.

Some immigrants will be given the option of posting $10,000 in cash bonds to prove that they will not need public assistance-a proposal akin to auctioning off green cards to wealthy immigrants, according to the National Immigration Law Center (NILC).

As with almost all of the other anti-immigrant policies being enacted by the Trump administration, the newly proposed regulation builds on Democratic policies.

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 United States from changing their legal status.

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 us law. "And at a time when one-fourth of children in America have at least one immigrant parent, it's a direct attack on children".

Immigrant rights advocates and public health officials say that could inflict long-term damage on immigrants and their children. The regulations are an especially potent brew for Republicans, as they take aim at both immigrants and those who use public benefits.

The proposed policy will cause immigrants to be "hungrier, sicker and poorer", Olivia Golden, the executive director of the Center for Law and Social Policy, told USA Today.

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