How Trump’s New Rule Could Bar Immigrants Who Receive Public Benefits

Is the Trump administration undermining the famous poem inscribed on the Statue of Liberty?

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Last month the Trump administration revealed a new “public charge” rule that could deny green cards and visa applications to millions of applicants.The new rule takes effect after October 15 and could affect even legal immigrants who receive food stamps and other public benefits.

What is the New ‘Public Charge’ Rule?

The new 837-page rule would make it more difficult for low-income, legal immigrants who receive public benefits to stay in the U.S. Such immigrants would need to prove that they are unlikely to ever require taxpayer-funded assistance such as food stamps, housing vouchers, and other forms of public benefits.

If a legal immigrant had received public benefits above a certain threshold, his or her application for a change in immigration status or application to enter the U.S. could be denied.

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According to the Department of Homeland Security, the rule is expected to affect more than 382,000 people, most of whom are already living in the U.S. legally, but who need to apply to adjust their status to acquire permanent residency.

When asked about whether the new rule would be inconsistent with the words “give me your tired, your poor” inscribed on the Statue of Liberty, acting Director of the Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS) office, Ken Cuccinelli said, “I do not think by any means we’re ready to take anything off the Statue of Liberty.”

IS ANYONE EXEMPT FROM THE NEW RULE?

Some immigrants would be exempt to the new rule, including:

  • active duty members of the military (as well as their spouses and children);
  • asylum-seekers;
  • refugees;
  • pregnant women; and
  • children under 21 years old.

The new rule would also redefine a “public charge” as any immigrant who personally benefitted from one public benefit for at least 12 months during a 36-month period. And receiving two public benefits in one month would count as two months.

What do you think? Is this a rule in the right direction of lightening the burden on taxpayers? Or should legal immigrants be entitled to public benefits without any penalty?

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