At the end of last month, the Trump Administration proposed a rule which would make it more difficult to obtain green cards or visas for immigrants already living in the United States and those wanting to enter, if they rely on public services such as food stamps, public housing, and Medicaid. If made final, the revised regulations would harm many immigrant families and damage the nation’s economy.
The main purpose of the proposal is to widen the definition of “public charge,” which started in the 1800s to deny entry to immigrants deemed most likely to depend on government subsidies. Those who apply for green cards have always been required to prove they wouldn’t be a financial burden, including a 1999 rule which prohibits immigrants from receiving legal residency if they were found likely to rely on cash benefits, such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF).
However, the new rule would consider the use of Section 8 housing assistance and food stamps would disqualify immigrants from obtaining a green card and even temporary visas. The updated process would examine a person’s income and financial assets to determine the new standards for low income and apply negative points on certain factors, including lack of employability and lack of ability to cover medical expenses.
If the proposed rule goes into effect, many immigrants may be discouraged from seeking public assistance from the government, which can result in increased financial hardship for these families. It is important to highlight that green card holders pay taxes supporting these programs since income and payroll taxes are withheld from their paychecks and they also pay property and sales tax.