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The Trump administration on Monday previewed a pending rule change that will make it more difficult for legal immigrants to obtain green cards or temporary visas in Amerca if they use public benefits like food stamps or Medicaid.
The policy change could affect over a million green card and visa holders in the US and many millions more immigration applicants abroad. It requires those seeking to lawful entry to establish that they will not become "public charges," an ill-defined term that has been applied to those primarily dependent upon government financial assistance.
Policy - Extension - Change - Immigration - Status
The policy also applies to aliens seeking seeking an extension or change in immigration status for them and their families.
The term "public charge" has been on the books since 1882 but has had relatively little effect on immigration because Congress already prevents most immigrants from relying on welfare programs, and because it requires most green card applicants have a financial sponsor.
Term - Everyone - US - Immigration - System
But the term, how it's defined, and to whom it's applied is about to become much more significant for everyone involved in the US immigration system.
The new rule, first published last October for public comment, changes the interpretation of "public charge" by making it apply not just to those currently on government assistance but also to legal immigrants deemed "likely at any time to become a public charge."
Immigration - Officials - Immigrant - Benefit - State
If immigration officials determine a prospective immigrant might eventually use some public benefit – federal state, local or tribal – they could deny the application.
Via Twitter, Marielena Hincapié, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center, decried the new rules as a "racially motivated wealth test."
Means - Consideration
But financial means is not the only consideration.
To make a determination – in other words, to predict the future – immigration officials will weigh more than a dozen criteria, which include not only past utilization of public benefits...
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