US may restrict green cards to aid recipients in new crackdown

Trump administration seeks to limit access to U.S. for immigrants who use or are likely to use public assistance

US may restrict green cards to aid recipients in new crackdown

"Under long-standing federal law, those seeking to immigrate to the United States must show they can support themselves financially", said Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen in a statement.

Immigrants could also be denied a change in legal status once in the U.S. if they received or are likely in the future to use public benefits, such as public housing and food stamps equivalent to a certain monetary threshold. Nevertheless, the proposed rule is set to have a widespread effect; the New York Times cited government data estimating the new rule will affect 382,000 people each year.

On Saturday, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) listed a wide range of benefits which, if claimed, could disqualify United States immigrants seeking visas or green cards, or prevent immigrants already in the United States from changing their legal status.

The DHS will, by law, have to review those comments before finalising the regulation.

The US may deny green cards to immigrants who've legally used or seem likely to use a range of public benefits, including food assistance or housing vouchers, under new rules announced by the Trump administration on Saturday.

In making this determination, the DHS is proposing to consider current and past receipt of designated public benefits above certain thresholds as a heavily weighed negative factor.

Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen.

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The proposal is in complete contrast to the present guidelines which are being followed by the immigration department since 1999.

"Today's announcement by the Trump Administration is a backdoor, administrative end-run to substantially reduce legal immigration that, if implemented, will hurt our entire country", said President Todd Schulte.

The proposed public charge rule is part of the administration's broader campaign to limit both legal and illegal immigration, including bigger border barriers and stepped-up detention and deportation of undocumented residents. They also believe the rule could negatively affect public health by dissuading immigrants from using health or food aid to which they or their children are entitled.

According to previous draft versions of the proposal, citing US government data, the foreign born population uses public benefits at virtually the same rate as native-born Americans.

While the proposal does not include tax credits and other health benefits that were under consideration in previous drafts, immigrant advocates have raised concerns that the rule change will force families to forgo help to avoid jeopardizing their immigration status.

"The United States continues to be a global leader in humanitarian protection", DHS said in a press release.

The United States is going to make it harder for immigrants to come to or stay in the country if they or members of their family use certain public benefits.

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