cloudy.png
Sunday August 25th, 2019 9:53AM

New Trump rules would further restrict legal immigration

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Trump administration is moving forward with one of its most aggressive steps yet to restrict legal immigration, denying green cards to many migrants who use Medicaid, food stamps, housing vouchers or other forms of public assistance, officials said announced Monday.

Federal law already requires those seeking to become permanent residents and gain legal status to prove they will not be a burden to the U.S. — a "public charge," in government speak —but the new rules detail a broader range of programs that could disqualify them.

It's part of a dramatic overhaul of the nation's immigration system that the administration has been trying to put into place. While much of the attention has focused on President Donald Trump's efforts to crack down on illegal immigration, the new change targets people who entered the United States legally and are seeking permanent status. Its part of an effort to move the U.S. to a system that focuses on immigrants' skills instead of emphasizing the reunification of families.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services will now weigh public assistance along with other factors such as education, household income and health to determine whether to grant legal status.

The rules will take effect in mid-October. They don't apply to U.S. citizens, even if the U.S. citizen is related to an immigrant who is subject to them.

The acting director of Citizenship and Immigration Services, Ken Cuccinelli, said the rule change fits with the Republican president's message.

"We want to see people coming to this country who are self-sufficient," Cuccinelli said. "That's a core principle of the American dream. It's deeply embedded in our history, and particularly our history related to legal immigration."

Migrants make up a small percentage of those who get public benefits. In fact, many are ineligible for public benefits because of their immigration status.

Immigrant rights groups strongly criticized the changes, warning the rules will scare immigrants into not asking for help. And they are concerned the rules give too much authority to decide whether someone is likely to need public assistance at any time, giving officials the ability to deny legal status to more people.

The Los Angeles-based National Immigration Law Center immediately vowed to file a lawsuit. In a statement, the group called the new rules an attempt to redefine the legal immigration system "in order to disenfranchise communities of color and favor the wealthy."

On average, 544,000 people apply annually for green cards, with about 382,000 falling into categories that would be subject to this review, according to the government.

Addressing the rule at the White House, Cuccinelli denied the administration was rejecting long-held American values.

Pressed on the Emma Lazarus poem emblazoned below the Statue of Liberty that reads: "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free," he said: "I'm certainly not prepared to take anything down off the Statue of Liberty."

Guidelines in use since 1999 refer to a public charge as someone primarily dependent on cash assistance, income maintenance or government support for long-term institutionalization.

Under the new rules, the Department of Homeland Security has redefined a public charge as someone who is "more likely than not" to receive public benefits for more than 12 months within a 36-month period. If someone has two benefits, that is counted as two months. And the definition has been broadened to include Medicaid, housing assistance and food assistance under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP.

Following publication of the proposed rules last fall, Homeland Security received 266,000 public comments, more than triple the average number, and it made a series of amendments to the final rules as a result.

For example, women who are pregnant and on Medicaid or who need public assistance will not be subject to the new rules during the pregnancy and for 60 days after the birth.

The Medicare Part D low-income subsidy won't be considered a public benefit. And public benefits received by children up until age 21 won't be considered. Nor will emergency medical assistance, school lunch programs, foster care or adoption, student loans and mortgages, food pantries, homeless shelters or disaster relief.

Green card hopefuls will be required to submit three years of federal tax returns in addition to a history of employment. If immigrants have private health insurance, that will weigh heavily in their favor.

Active U.S. military members are exempt. So are refugees or asylum seekers, and the rules would not be applied retroactively, officials said. The administration also has moved to drastically reduce asylum in the U.S.

The administration recently tried to effectively end the protections at the U.S.-Mexico border before the effort was blocked by a court. It has sent more than 30,000 asylum seekers mostly from Central America back to Mexico wait out their immigration cases.

According to an Associated Press analysis of census data, low-income immigrants who are not citizens use Medicaid, food aid, cash assistance and Supplemental Security Income, or SSI, at a lower rate than comparable low-income native-born adults.

Non-citizen immigrants make up 6.5% of all those participating in Medicaid. They make up 8.8%t of those getting food assistance.

The new public assistance threshold, taken together with higher requirements for education, work skills and health, will make it more difficult for immigrants to qualify for green cards, advocates say.

"Without a single change in the law by Congress, the Trump public charge rules mean many more U.S. citizens are being and will be denied the opportunity to live together in the U.S. with their spouses, children and parents," said Ur Jaddou, a former Citizenship and Immigration Services chief counsel who's now director of the DHS Watch run by an immigrant advocacy group. "These are not just small changes. They are big changes with enormous consequences for U.S. citizens."

The new rules come at a time of increased criticism over Trump's hardline policies and his rhetoric.

On Aug. 3, 22 people were killed and dozens were injured in a shooting in El Paso, Texas, a border city that has become a face of the migration crisis. The shooting suspect told authorities he targeted Mexicans.

Critics contend Trump's words have contributed to a combustible climate that has spawned death and violence, but Trump disagrees.

___

Associated Press writers Zeke Miller, Sophia Tareen in Chicago and Jill Colvin in Berkeley Heights, New Jersey, contributed to this report.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP National News, AP Online National News, Top General short headlines, AP Online Headlines - Washington, AP Business
© Copyright 2019 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
New Trump rules would further restrict legal immigration
Trump administration rules that could deny green cards to immigrants if they use Medicaid, food stamps, housing vouchers or other forms of public assistance are going into effect
12:37PM ( 8 minutes ago )
Trump overhauls landmark endangered species protections
The Trump administration has rolled out some of the broadest changes in decades to enforcement of the landmark Endangered Species Act, which critics contend could speed extinction for some struggling plants and animals
12:29PM ( 16 minutes ago )
Hong Kong airport shuts down amid pro-democracy protest
One of the world's busiest airports canceled all flights after thousands of pro-democracy demonstrators crowded into Hong Kong's main terminal, while the central government in Beijing ominously characterized the protests as approaching "terrorism"
12:11PM ( 34 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Study: Asian carp could find plenty of food in Lake Michigan
A newly released study says if Asian carp reach Lake Michigan, they probably would find enough food to spread farther
11:45AM ( 1 hour ago )
Governor wants answers on 4 kids separated from families
Pennsylvania's governor says at least four children from his state were recently separated from their parents by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement
11:31AM ( 1 hour ago )
Autopsy of Epstein performed, but details yet to be released
The details of how Jeffrey Epstein died in his Manhattan jail cell over the weekend have yet to be released, but medical officials have performed an autopsy on the high-profile inmate accused of sexually abusing underage girls
11:30AM ( 1 hour ago )
AP National News
5 children killed in fire at Pennsylvania day care center
Authorities say a day care center where children could stay overnight as their parents worked has been ravaged by a fire that killed five and sent the owner to the hospital
9:34AM ( 3 hours ago )
Federal New York lockup draws new scrutiny in Epstein death
A federal lockup known for housing famous inmates has drawn a measure of infamy with the apparent suicide of its latest notorious guest: financier Jeffrey Epstein
8:37AM ( 4 hours ago )
Mass shootings have Latinos worried about being targets
The mass shootings in El Paso and Gilroy, California, that killed nearly two dozen Latinos have some Mexican Americans and Latino immigrants looking over their shoulders, avoiding Spanish and seeking out possible escapes amid fears they are targets.
7:11AM ( 5 hours ago )
AP Online National News
Trump overhauls landmark endangered species protections
The Trump administration has rolled out some of the broadest changes in decades to enforcement of the landmark Endangered Species Act, which critics contend could speed extinction for some struggling plants and animals
12:29PM ( 16 minutes ago )
Hong Kong airport shuts down amid pro-democracy protest
One of the world's busiest airports canceled all flights after thousands of pro-democracy demonstrators crowded into Hong Kong's main terminal, while the central government in Beijing ominously characterized the protests as approaching "terrorism"
12:11PM ( 34 minutes ago )
Firefighter was dad to 3 of 5 kids killed in day care blaze
An official says three of five kids killed in a fire at a home child care center in Pennsylvania were the children of a volunteer firefighter who was out another call
12:00PM ( 45 minutes ago )
Patriots boost tight end depth, acquire Saubert from Falcons
Patriots add depth at tight end, acquire Eric Saubert from Falcons for draft pick
11:50AM ( 55 minutes ago )
5 Russian nuclear engineers buried after rocket explosion
Thousands of Russians have attended the funerals of five Russian nuclear engineers killed by an explosion as they tested a new rocket
11:46AM ( 59 minutes ago )