Draft Rules Could Limit Legal Immigrants Who Use Public Benefits

Why are legal immigrants using public benefits in the first place? People who immigrate attempting citizenship are barred from using public benefits. They have to show that they can take care of themselves, that they won’t be a drain on government coffers

(Reuters) The Trump administration is considering making it harder for foreigners living in the United States to get permanent residency if they or their American-born children use public benefits such as food assistance, in a move that could sharply restrict legal immigration.

The Department of Homeland Security has drafted rules seen by Reuters that would allow immigration officers to scrutinize a potential immigrant’s use of certain taxpayer-funded public benefits to determine if they could become a public burden.

For example, U.S. officials could look at whether the applicant has enrolled a child in government pre-school programs or received subsidies for utility bills or health insurance premiums.

The draft rules are a sharp departure from current guidelines, which have been in place since 1999 and specifically bar authorities from considering such non-cash benefits in deciding a person’s eligibility to immigrate to the United States or stay in the country.

“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,” the document states. “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.”

Why would we allow immigrants to reside in the U.S., and potentially become permanent legal residents, or even citizens, who have to rely on the government in such a manner? Virtually every first world country has the same requirements, namely that any immigrant must not rely upon government services. They have to be able to support themselves.

U.S. immigration law has long required officials to exclude a person likely to become a “public charge” from permanent residence. But current U.S. guidelines, in place since 1999, narrowly define “public charge” to be a person “primarily dependent on the government for subsistence,” either through direct cash assistance or government-funded long-term care.

In other words, the Clinton administration made it easier for people who depend on Government to come to and stay in the U.S.

“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,” said Charles Wheeler, director of training and legal support at Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc.

Why are we allowing in immigrants who depend on government to this degree to start with? Would it not be better than we take care of our own first?

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