Trump Administration to Deny Green Cards to Legal Immigrants Who Draw From Social Programs

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from The Wall Street Journal,

Rule, which critics say punishes the poor, could also block prospective immigrants; legal challenges are expected.

Legal immigrants could be ineligible for green cards if they use or are deemed likely to rely on social programs such as Medicaid or food stamps under a rule released by the Trump administration on Monday.

The rule, issued by the Department of Homeland Security, is one of the most sweeping elements of the Trump administration’s immigration policy. Critics of the regulation warned that it punishes poor immigrants and could result in widespread confusion in immigrant communities. Democratic state attorneys general are expected to challenge it in court.

The administration all but guaranteed fresh criticism from immigration groups by opting to push ahead in the wake of a shooting in El Paso, Texas, that was apparently motivated by anti-immigrant animus. Similar sentiments were expressed after Immigration and Customs Enforcement carried out raids on food processing plants in Mississippi last week.

The rule change tightens the definition of who is likely to become a “public charge” under immigration law, a designation that prevents an immigrant from obtaining legal permanent residence, and that is also used by the Justice and State departments to determine which noncitizens can be removed from the country or prevented from ever entering.

Use or potential use of a benefits program such as Medicaid, some types of housing assistance or food stamps could now disqualify an applicant, including around 900,000 immigrants currently in the U.S.

“Through the public charge rule, President Trump’s administration is reinforcing the ideals of self-sufficiency and personal responsibility,” Ken Cuccinelli, the acting director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, told reporters at the White House.

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