The Trump administration has announced that, effective October 2019, foreign non-citizens who receive (or are expected to need) public assistance could be denied legal permanent residency as a new regulation will make it easier for authorities to reject green card and visa applications.
Any foreigner who wants to live and work legally in the United States must apply for and be granted a Permanent Residence Card (PRC) or green card under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) which bestows the rights, benefits, and privileges of permanent residency on immigrants who want to stay in the country with the goal of becoming naturalized citizens.
The official estimate is that 8.9 million of the 13.2 million current U.S. green card holders are eligible for citizenship. Anyone with a good moral character who has been granted a green card earns statutory citizenship after proving uninterrupted residency in the country for at least five years.
A person who is primarily dependent on government assistance is termed a “public charge” when more than half of her or his income comes from some sort of public welfare program.
The new regulation, titled “Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds,” expands the list of programs that are considered welfare which could disqualify applicants based on non-sustainability and “includes a requirement that aliens seeking an extension of stay or change of status demonstrate that they have not, since obtaining the nonimmigrant status they seek to extend or change, received public benefits over the designated threshold, as defined in this rule.”
Foreigners with low income and little education who apply for a green card may be determined to be unqualified for permanent legal U.S. residency status if they have a record of receiving (or are anticipated to need) government assistance programs such as Medicaid, food stamps, housing vouchers, and certain other forms of public assistance.
Census Bureau data shows that roughly half of all U.S. non-citizens are in the country illegally. Non-citizens include long-term temporary visitors (such as guest workers and foreign students) and permanent residents who have not naturalized (green card holders).
Nine European Union member countries (Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Netherlands, Sweden, and the United Kingdom) limit access to citizenship via naturalization and make permanent legal residency conditional on the payment of substantial fees or based on proof of a certain degree of economic self-sufficiency.
The new U.S. regulation will shift the focus on prospective citizens toward their skills and assets rather than serve to reunite family members. A foreigner who wants to stay in the U.S. but is judged likely to become a public charge could be ordered to post a bond for $10,000 or more, to be refunded after naturalization or when the temporary resident leaves the country.
New York’s Democratic Attorney General, Letitia James, countered the Trump administration’s plan to control legal immigration by doing what lawyers do best: threaten to sue in order to stop the legal action.
The liberal New York AG beat the familiar feel-good, bleeding-heart “Families First” drum – as long as those families are foreign-born future Democratics:
“President Trump’s new public charge rule is yet one more example of his Administration turning its back on people fighting to make a better life for them and their families. Under this rule, children will go hungry; families will go without medical care. I am committed to defending all of New York’s communities, which is why I intend to sue the Trump Administration over this egregious rule.”
The fact is that the “State of Homelessness in America” 2019 report published by the National Alliance to End Homelessness (NAEH) proved that there are plenty of needy families in the country right now who could use some governmental assistance:
“Approximately 552,830 people were experiencing homelessness in the United States on a single night in 2018 during the Point-in-Time (PIT) count.”
U.S. Census Bureau figures underscore the reality that American welfare benefits are supporting low-income foreigners rather than legitimate citizens:
“A majority of ‘non-citizens,’ including those with legal green card rights, are tapping into welfare programs set up to help poor and ailing Americans.”
In 2014, 63 percent of non-citizens benefited from some type of public assistance program. That number climbed to 70 percent for non-permanent residents who had lived in the U.S. for 10 years or longer.
Robert Greenstein, president of the Leftist Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, was predictably gloomy about the Trump administration’s move to tighten up immigration efforts as part of Making American Great Again – MAGA:
“The rule reflects a dark vision of the United States as an unwelcoming nation that wants to keep out people who seek to join their family, work hard, and climb the economic ladder, based on the erroneous assumption that they won’t contribute to our communities, our economy, and our nation.”
How Greenstein can state categorically that all low-income, undereducated immigrants are capable of contributing to the sustainability of their new communities is hard to fathom. History shows the opposite is true: people who can’t support themselves and don’t have other benefactors to help them typically must resort to welfare programs and/or criminal activities to sustain themselves and their families.