Sunday, 25 August, 2019

Trump administration announces rule that could limit legal immigration

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Steven Clarke | 12 August, 2019, 20:52

The rule will be dated August 14 in the Federal Register and will go into effect 60 days later.

The new rule is derived from the Immigration Act of 1882, which allows the US government to deny a visa to anyone likely to become a "public charge".

Though the rule, which will be implemented by the Department of Homeland Security and immigration agencies run by it, will apply only to foreigners already in the United States, new admissions are expected to be impacted as well, because, experts say the state department "is already applying more expansive public charge requirements to visa applicants overseas, and is expected to fully adopt the DHS standards".

Known as the "public charge" provision, the process evaluates a person's likelihood to become primarily dependent on government assistance.

According to the study, conducted by the Urban Institute, one in seven adults (13.7 percent) in immigrant households said that either they or their family members had chosen not to participate in a non-cash benefit program in 2018 "out of fear of risking future green card status".

"However", Cuccinelli said, "Congress has never defined the term "public charge" in the law and that term hadn't been clearly defined by regulation".

The final rule is part of the Trump administration's broad immigration platform that has continuously pushed for hard-line policies.

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Factors that can count against a green card applicant include having "a medical condition" that will interfere with work or school; not having enough money to cover "any reasonably foreseeable medical costs" related to such a medical condition; having "financial liabilities;" having been approved to receive a public benefit, even if the individual has not actually received the benefit; having a low credit score; the absence of private health insurance; the absence of a college degree; not having the English language skills "sufficient to enter the job market;" or having a sponsor who is "unlikely" to provide financial support. "And the way you cut legal immigration in half is by kicking the doors out from the definition of 'likely to become a public charge'".

This is one of the country's most aggressive moves to restrict legal immigration.

The Los Angeles-based National Immigration Law Center immediately vowed to file a lawsuit challenging the changes that take effect in October.

Immigration advocates worry the new rules will scare immigrants into not asking for help.

Forty-four House Democrats in June co-sponsored a bill to try to block the rule as it was being developed.

A response was awaited to from the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), which will be the DHS agency using the new rule, about official estimates. "We must ensure that non-citizens do not abuse our public benefit programs and jeopardize the social safety net needed by vulnerable Americans", the White House said. "Through the public charge rule, President Trump's administration is enforcing the ideals of self-sufficiency and personal responsibility".

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