The proposed rule announced by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on Saturday could make immigrants seeking to enter the U.S. ineligible for visas or green cards if they are deemed likely to receive certain public benefits once they come to the country, reports CNN.
In a press release accompanying the proposed rule, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said the rule is meant to "promote immigrant self-sufficiency and protect finite resources by ensuring that they are not likely to become burdens on American taxpayers".
The statement defined the public benefits described as federal, state, local or tribal assistance for income maintenance, food stamps, certain types of health care, institutionalization for long-term care at the government's expense, and public housing, among others.
According to the rule, foreign immigrants who "seek adjustment of status or a visa, or who are applicants for admission, must establish that they are not likely at any time to become a public charge" unless determined by Congress.
While applying for temporarily visiting or residency, if a foreigner is receiving one or more of the public benefits mentioned in the proposal, that could be counted as a reason to turn down the visa request or determining their eligibility to come to or remain in the United States. As Common Dreams reported earlier this month, rumors of the restriction have already had a detrimental effect on immigrant communities, as families across the country have begun to drop out of the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), reporting fears that their participation will affect their right to stay in the country.
The changes would apply to those seeking visas or legal permanent residency but not people applying for USA citizenship.
The proposed rule signed by the Homeland Security Secretary on September 21 and posted on the website of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) was slammed by the Silicon Valley-based tech industry and political leaders.
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Immigrant advocacy groups said people may avoid or withdraw from public aid programs even at the risk of losing shelter and suffering deteriorating health because they worry they will be denied visas.
Immigrants who use or are likely to use public assistance programs will have a tougher time getting into the country under a new proposal by the Trump administration.
According to previous draft versions of the proposal, citing USA government data, the foreign born population uses public benefits at virtually the same rate as native-born Americans.
The new rules would extend those measures to non-cash benefits, such as food stamps and housing vouchers, which are considered "heavily weighed negative factors" in obtaining legal permanent status.
"Today's announcement by the Trump Administration is a backdoor, administrative end-run to substantially reduce legal immigration that, if implemented, will hurt our entire country", said FWD.us President Todd Schulte.
The administration estimated the regulations would affect about 382,000 people a year.
Immigrants applying for green cards are already required to prove they will not become a so-called "public charge", with receipt of cash benefits considered.