President Donald Trump is discussing restricting foreigners living inside and out of the United States from getting permanent residency if they or their American-born children use public programs.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is crafting a way for its agents to get access to an immigrant’s use of certain government programs, such as pre-school and food assistance programs to determine if they are a "burden" on state programs and dollars. The information could way into the DHS decision to grant applicants permanent residency in the U.S., or not.
“Non-citizens who receive public benefits are not self-sufficient and are relying on the U.S. government and state and local entities for resources instead of their families, sponsors or private organizations,” claims the DHS.
“An alien’s receipt of public benefits comes at taxpayer expense and availability of public benefits may provide an incentive for aliens to immigrate to the United States,” reads the draft.
Currently, authorities can see if an applicant benefits from direct-cash programs in determining their immigration request.
If Trump gets his way DHS agents will be able to take into account whether or not a candidate or their kids take part in non-cash benefits, such as health insurance subsidies and food supplement programs. Immigration officers will also be able to see if an applicant uses transportation and housing vouchers as well as Head Start, an early education program for low-income kids, in determining their immigrant status recommendation.
Experts say the regulation change will allow the administration to potentially block low and middle-income applications, without having to go through the lengthy and politically controversial procedure of trying to change immigration law.
“The big picture here is the administration is trying to accomplish by regulation the substantive changes to immigration law that it has proposed be enacted by statute,” Barbara Strack, veteran DHS official who helped draft the 1999 rules currently in place.
Charles Wheeler of Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. adds, “It’s going to scare a lot of people into yanking their children off of needed healthcare, school programs, child nutrition programs, basic sorts of subsistence-level programs that have kept the population healthy and employable,” for fear that using these state programs will jeopardize their of their kids future immigration status.
“The administration is committed to enforcing existing immigration law, which is clearly intended to protect the American taxpayer,” said Tyler Houlton, a DHS spokesman.
About 50 percent of undocumented workers who may be applying for residency pay U.S. income taxes each year.