Trump targets legal migrants who get food aid

US seeks to curtail green cards for immigrants on public aid

Immigration officers in recent years have defined visa applicants as a public charge if they are likely to become primarily dependent on government assistance.

Under a new rule that goes into effect after 60 days, the United States will start denying Green Cards and extensions of other temporary stay visas to foreigners who have either used government assistance such as food stamps and housing rent or are "likely at any time to become a public charge", someone who has come to reply on these "public benefits" and, experts said, could impact Indians.

The Trump administration released a regulation Monday that could dramatically cut the number of legal immigrants allowed to enter and stay in the USA by making it easier to reject green card and visa applications.

"Throughout our history, self-sufficiency has been a core tenet of the American dream", Ken Cuccinelli, acting director of the USCIS, said in a statement on the announcement.

Wealth, education, age and English-language skills will take on greater importance in the process for obtaining a green card, as the change seeks to redefine what it means to be a "public charge", as well as who is likely to be one under US immigration law. The definition of public benefits is cash aide including Supplemental Security Income, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), most forms of Medicaid, and a variety of public housing programs, the fact sheet said.

Factors that can count against a green card applicant include having "a medical condition" that will interfere with work or school; not having enough money to cover "any reasonably foreseeable medical costs" related to such a medical condition; having "financial liabilities;" having been approved to receive a public benefit, even if the individual has not actually received the benefit; having a low credit score; the absence of private health insurance; the absence of a college degree; not having the English language skills "sufficient to enter the job market;" or having a sponsor who is "unlikely" to provide financial support.

While the Trump administration has already been cracking down on potential immigrant welfare recipients, the updated version of the rule rolled out Monday morning will incorporate more types of public benefits that will be considered in the process and is an effort to "better ensure" that legal immigrants to the United States are "self-sufficient", per a DHS news release.

"Legal. Undocumented. Refugee. Asylum Seeker".

In early 2018, Trump rejected a bipartisan effort in Congress to reform the nation's immigration system that became embroiled in controversy over accusations by a Democratic senator that the Republican president profanely disparaged African and Caribbean nations in regard to their immigrants.

The new rule would alter how the government decides if someone is a public charge. It's unclear whether enforcing the law would make any substantial difference.

Under U.S. law, legal permanent residents who have had green cards for at least five years are eligible to apply for public benefits.

About one in seven adults in immigrant families reported that either the person or a family member did not participate in a non-cash safety net program previous year because of fear of risking his or her green card status in the future, an Urban Institute study found.

Meanwhile, researchers found that in families where all foreign-born members were citizens, one in 10 adults (9.3 percent) shared the same fears.

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