Legal Residents can Now be Deported for Breaking Rules of Public Benefit Grants

Credit:Bill Oxford

(ESPAÑOL) Legal residents can now be deported if they break the rules of federal and state programs that offer public benefits to immigrants.

New guidelines implemented last week by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services say that immigrants who abuse “any program related to the reception of public benefits” will be summoned to appear before an immigration court.

Immigrants will be subjected to removal procedures if there’s evidence of “fraud or willful misrepresentation” in connection “with any official matter or application before another governmental agency,” said the guidelines, published late last month.

In those cases, immigration officials will have expanded authority to issue Notices to Appear (NTA), documents that mark the start of deportation procedures.

The main public benefits that immigrants with legal residence permits, known as Green Cards, can receive are: Medicaid for people with low income or disabilities; Temporary Assistance for Needy Families; Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program; Supplemental Security Income; and the Children’s Health Insurance Program.

Receiving assistance from those programs could even harm an immigrant’s application for a Green Card under a proposal by the Homeland Security Department designed to block documented immigrants from obtaining residence if they or their children receive public benefits, including food stamps and early childhood education programs.

“An alien’s receipt of public benefits comes at taxpayer expense and availability of public benefits may provide an incentive for aliens to immigrate to the United States,” the DHS draft argued.

In a statement that accompanied the release of the memorandum to the media, agency director L. Francis Cissna said: “For too long, USCIS officers uncovering instances of fraudulent or criminal activity have been limited in their ability to help ensure U.S. immigration laws are faithfully executed. This updated policy equips USCIS officers with clear guidance they need and deserve to support the enforcement priorities established by the president, keep our communities safe, and protect the integrity of our immigration system from those seeking to exploit it.”