In Washington, D.C., presidential administrations commonly seek to bury bad news or unpopular decisions late by releasing them late on Friday afternoons. Perhaps it’s telling, then, that the Trump administration tried to bury its latest attack on U.S. immigrant communities even deeper—by announcing it on a Saturday night.
The administration’s proposed new rule changes the country’s longstanding approach to determining which legal immigrants to the United States will be granted green cards (both those already here legally and those seeking visas from abroad). The new rule would significantly expand the list of benefits immigration officials would consider when determining whether or not an immigrant should be granted a green card. Now, in addition to cash benefits like supplemental security income, the government would consider immigrants’ use of these additional public programs as a “heavily weighted negative factor” in applications for long-term residency:
- Medicaid (except for some emergency and school-based benefit programs);
- Low-income prescription drug subsidies under Medicare Part D;
- The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP/food stamps);
- Section 8 housing assistance; and
- Public housing.
This represents a dramatic change to the U.S. immigration system—government estimates suggest it will affect around 382,000 immigrants each year. Many of them have U.S.-citizen children.