New “Welfare Rules” Impact Legal Immigration

Credit: Kameleon007

On August, 12, 2019, the Trump administration issued a new guideline which will dramatically limit the number of legal immigrants are allowed to enter or stay in the US. In doing so, the regulations will also streamway the ability to reject visa and green card applications. The new regulations mean many visas and green card applications can be more easily rejected for having used public benefits, such as Medicaid, food stamps, and housing vouchers. The basis of the regulation is that the government can reach the conclusion the individual will be more likely to need some form of government assistance in the future. Critics of the proposal say this will unfairly target low income and lowly educated applicants. The acting US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Director Ken Cuccinelli has stated the reason for the new regulation is to encourage “self-reliance and self-sufficiency for those seeking to come to or stay in the United States,” even admitting this would make it more difficult for low-wage earners to immigrate to the US. Initial official numbers indicate about 382,000 applicants will be affected by this ruling; immigration advocates argue millions of people will be affected by this regulation. In the past year, one in five immigrants have admitted to changing their regular routine for fear of future retribution against their immigration status.

Various groups have already vowed legal challenges against the regulations, including New York Attorney General Letitia James and the National Immigration Law Center. Both parties cite the administration’s continued attack on low-income and minority immigrants as the basis of the challenge. New York Attorney General Letitia James slams the president’s “new public charge rule [as] yet one more example of his Administration turning its back on people fighting to make a better life for them and their families.” Despite the legal challenges awaiting the regulations, the original rule would not include refugees or asylum-seekers.