One-Third of U.S.-Born Citizens Would Struggle to Meet Standard of Extreme Trump Rule for Immigrants

Thursday, September 27, 2018

A new draft proposed rule from President Trump’s Department of Homeland Security would create a harsh new standard for immigration officials to decide whether to let immigrants lawfully in the United States stay here and let those seeking legal entry come and rejoin family. Under the proposed rule, immigration officials could turn away lawfully residing immigrants seeking to remain here or others seeking to come in the first place if they have received, or are judged likely to receive in the future, any of an array of public benefits tied to need. If the new standard regarding benefit receipt were applied to U.S.-born citizens, nearly one-third would have trouble meeting it, based on conservative assumptions.

Under federal law back to the late 1800s, immigration officials can turn down people seeking to enter the United States or become lawful permanent residents (a.k.a. green card holders) if officials determine that they are, or will likely become, a “public charge.” Longstanding federal policy considers someone a “public charge” if they receive (or are deemed likely to receive) more than half of their income from cash assistance programs, such as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI), or receive long-term care through Medicaid.