The Trump administration is proposing to make it extremely difficult for many immigrants to come to the U.S. or receive green cards if they’re deemed likely to use public benefits like food stamps or Medicaid, reports Vox.com. The draft regulation, expected to be published in the Federal Register for public comment on Monday, would overhaul how the government evaluates whether a would-be immigrant is “not likely to be a public charge” (a requirement of many visa categories and green card applications). The current definition is so narrow that the government almost never rejects applications on those grounds.
The Trump administration’s proposed new definition would require a far-ranging inventory of an immigrant’s history and economic prospects. It would give enormous discretion to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) officers to reject an immigrant’s application for admission, or for a green card, because the officer believes the immigrant doesn’t make enough money to support a large family or doesn’t have the resources to provide health care for a preexisting condition. At the heart of the proposal is a change in how the government looks at public benefits an immigrant has already used or is likely to use. While only cash benefits are considered now — benefits that only 3 percent of noncitizens use — the new approach would include Medicaid, SNAP (food stamps), Section 8 and other housing benefits, and subsidies for low-income earners in Medicare Part D. The message that immigrants are likely to receive is simple: that they shouldn’t use public benefits if they want to stay in the U.S.