The Trump administration’s plan to block green cards and citizenship for noncitizens who used public assistance programs

“Surprisingly, the Trump Administration may be unintentionally attempting to protect welfare benefits for poor and low-income United States citizens at the expense of those noncitizens entitled to the same public benefits.”

THE Trump Administration is planning to deny noncitizens either green cards or United States citizenship if an individual used a public assistance program in the past.  Crafted by White House Senior Advisor Stephen Miller, this alarming proposal represents another pillar in the Trump Administration’s greater anti-immigrant policy to curb legal immigration in the United States, especially for refugees and asylum seekers, and forge ahead with a merit based immigration policy.

As a result, immigrants legally living in the United States who used or whose household members used Obamacare, children’s health insurance, food stamps, or other public benefits (i.e. transportation, housing vouchers and preschool child care) could be blocked from legal permanent residency and United State citizenship.  Use of the following public benefits could become problematic for individuals applying for green cards and United States citizenship: Social Security Insurance (“SSI”), Supplemental Assistance Program (“SNAP”), and Children’s Health Insurance Program (“CHIP”).

The myth purported by the Trump Administrative focuses on noncitizens being a drain on public resources in the United States.  The center of this new proposal stems from the concept of a “public charge.” The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) and the Department of State (“DOS”) consider whether to grant an individual’s immigration application for legal permanent residency or United States citizenship by weighing the likelihood that an immigrant will become dependent on the United States Government.   Traditionally, the agencies would consider the totality of the circumstances, which included whether the noncitizen received public assistance, his or her age, capacity to earn of living, health, family situation, work history, affidavits of support, physical condition, and mental condition.  A noncitizen is considered a “public charge” if he or she is “likely to become primarily dependent on the government for subsistence, as demonstrated by either 1) the receipt of public cash assistance for income maintenance or 2) institutionalization for long-term-care at government expense.”

With this new proposal, the Trump Administration is redefining the definition of “public charge” and expanding it to include immigrants who depend on Government assistance programs.  It believes that the proper role of the United States Government is to ensure that legal immigration does not negatively impact existing Americans in the United States.  Surprisingly, the Trump Administration may be unintentionally attempting to protect welfare benefits for poor and low-income United States citizens at the expense of those noncitizens entitled to the same public benefits.

Clearly, this new proposal continues to create fear in immigrant communities throughout the United States.  Further, it will force non-citizens to forgo necessary health care out of fear and use public benefits designed for individuals in need.  This continued anti-immigrant policy shows that the Trump Administration does not want to make American great again, but instead dehumanize America.  The pathway to a green card or United States citizenship should not be blocked simply because an individual needed help along the way.

It should be noted that this disturbing proposal in its current state would only apply to individuals who utilized public benefits on or after the date that it becomes a rule.  However, considering the unpredictability of the Trump Administration’s past immigration policies, noncitizens must stay abreast of the current laws and policies.

Any noncitizen who has used a public benefit must consult with an experienced and knowledgeable immigration attorney before applying for legal permanent residency or United States citizenship.  As the Trump Administration continues to reshape the United States’ legal immigration policies, an immigration attorney’s advice is indispensible in navigating noncitizens through the immigration system.

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REEVES IMMIGRATION LAW GROUP is one of the oldest, largest and most experienced immigration fi rms in the United States with offi ces in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Las Vegas, Manila and China.

For more Information please call (800) 795- 8009 or visit www.rreeves.com.

Telephone: (800) 795-8009

E-mail: immigration@rreeves.com

Website: www.rreeves.com.

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The analysis and suggestions offered in this column do not create a lawyer-client relationship and are not a substitute for the personalized representation that is essential to every case.          

Reeves Immigration Law Group
Reeves Immigration Law Group

REEVES IMMIGRATION LAW GROUP WAS FOUNDED IN 1980 WITH THE GOAL OF PROVIDING SUPERIOR LEGAL SERVICES TO THE IMMIGRANT COMMUNITY. THROUGHOUT THE PAST 37 YEARS WE HAVE BEEN DEVOTED EXCLUSIVELY TO THE PRACTICE OF U.S. IMMIGRATION AND NATIONALITY LAW. OUR IMMIGRATION ATTORNEYS AND DEDICATED SUPPORT PERSONNEL WORK TIRELESSLY TO PROVIDE EFFECTIVE LEGAL REPRESENTATION TO INDIVIDUALS AND BUSINESSES REGARDING VISAS, PERMANENT RESIDENT STATUS, U.S. CITIZENSHIP, AND RELIEF FROM DEPORTATION. WE ARE KNOWN FOR OUR EXTRAORDINARY COMMITMENT TO CLIENTS, AS WE PROVIDE EACH CLIENT WITH THE PERSONAL ATTENTION THEY DESERVE. AT RMZD, WE HAVE A DIVERSE CLIENTELE THAT INCLUDES INDIVIDUALS, FAMILY-OWNED BUSINESS, AND MAJOR INTERNATIONAL CORPORATIONS. WE ARE ABLE TO ASSIST OUR CLIENTS WITH ALL OF THEIR IMMIGRATION NEEDS, REGARDLESS OF WHETHER IT IS AS SIMPLE AS RENEWING A GREEN CARD OR AS COMPLEX AS HAVING A FOREIGN EMPLOYEE TRANSFERRED TO THE U.S. TO CONTINUE THEIR EMPLOYMENT WITH AN INTERNATIONAL COMPANY’S U.S. OFFICE.

1 Comment
  1. I wonder how far back the will go on this? In other words, if a person used these benefits before this legislation is approved or becomes law, will they be denied? I hope that those that used these benefits in the past will receive a clean slate or be grandfathered from it. I say that because the USCIS website actually says that many of these benefits are not a public charge. For this source, see this USCIS webpage, https://www.uscis.gov/greencard/public-charge. Then, look at the question, “Q. What publicly funded benefits may not be considered for public charge purposes?” This lists many of the programs on the President’s proposal’s list.

    Therefore, how can the US government ban people citizenship for using benefits that they say do NOT count toward a “Public Charge”?

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