• On Monday, the Trump administration issued a regulation giving concerned authorities the power to deny permanent residency to immigrants who use or are likely to use public benefits, such as housing vouchers, Medicaid and food stamps.kkp
• This new criterion is referred to as “Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds,” and it will go into effect on Oct. 15. The rule updates the guidance from 1999, which stated that benefits such as SNAP and Medicaid would not count as public charge evaluation.
• The rule applies to immigrants who benefit from one or more designated public benefits for twelve months within a period of 36 months. Each benefit is counted separately, meaning someone with two benefits will count as two months.
• Ken Cuccinelli, the acting US Citizenship and Immigration Services Director, said this new criteria will encourage "self-reliance and self-sufficiency for those seeking to come to or stay in the United States."
• As per the Department of Homeland Security, this new rule may impact about 382,000 people seeking adjust their immigration. Letitia James, the New York Attorney General, plans to challenge the rule.
• Exceptions to the rule include benefits received by an active duty military member, children under 21 years, emergency medical care and Medicaid for pregnant. Moreover, the rule does not impact refugees or asylum seekers.
How should we tackle the problems of our immigration system? Well, according to the Trump Administration and the Department of Homeland Security, it’s by blocking legal immigrants from permanent residency if they benefit from government programs. The programs that’ll put status-pending individuals and families on a fast-track to the airport include school lunch programs, homeless shelters, and food pantries. In simpler terms, those looking to come to the U.S. by working through the legal channels of bureaucracy are evaluated for their likelihood of becoming a “public charge,” meaning, a public expense.
If you’re still unable to see the ominous consequences of this rule, let’s take a closer look at some of the programs that stand to jeopardize immigration status: school lunch programs, homeless shelters, and food pantries. What stands out is the family-critical role these programs often play, also for those families awaiting an immigration decision. Struggling immigrant parents who need to feed their children are now forced to play a sick round of “Would You Rather.” The choice is theirs: provide the family with food and shelter or obtain a green card.
Wouldn’t you rather pass on this round of roulette? The new rule creates yet another layer of fear on top of the other day-to-day anxieties immigrants face. Now they must steer clear from seeking help, even if they desperately need it and are eligible for such programs. Instead of being given a fair chance of building a life in the United States, they must do so without any type of safety net—a deeply unsettling consequence of the new rule, especially when you consider the unpredictable nature of needs. Those who are already drowning in distress over their immigration status are limited by yet another constriction that puts their basic needs in the line of fire.