The so-called public charge rule is designed to ensure immigrants can support themselves financially. In doing so, though, it’ll likely make it harder for low-income immigrants to come to the US.
Under current regulations put in place in 1996, the term is defined as someone who is “primarily dependent” on government assistance, meaning it supplies more than half their income. But it only counted cash benefits, such as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families or Supplemental Security Income from Social Security.
Officials can take into account an applicant’s financial resources, health, education, skills, family status and age. But few people are rejected on these relatively narrow grounds, experts said.
Immigrant advocates have argued that the rule, as it was proposed, went far beyond what Congress intended and would discriminate against those from poorer countries, keep families apart and prompt legal residents to forgo needed public aid, which could also impact their US citizen children.
They also said it would penalize even hard-working immigrants who only need a small bit of temporary assistance from the government.
Earlier this year, Trump also issued a memorandum doubling down on a current law that requires immigrants’ sponsors to take financial responsibility for certain income-based government benefits the immigrant receives. It’s unclear whether enforcing the law would make any substantial difference.
Undocumented immigrants would not be affected — unless an avenue opens up for them to apply for green cards or visas since they are largely ineligible for public aid.
Monday’s regulation is likely to meet legal challenges, but it could still cause some who fear retribution to alter their daily lives.
Among low-income immigrant families, the figure was more than one in five, according to the study, which was based on a December 2018 survey of nearly 2,000 non-elderly adults who are foreign born or live with at least one foreign-born family member.
The rule means many green card and visa applicants could be turned down if they have low incomes or little education because they’d be deemed more likely to need government assistance in the future. It would take effect 60 days after it is published in the Federal Register Tuesday.
This story is breaking and will be updated.