Trump Administration Targeting Immigrants Who Use Obamacare And Food Stamps To Deny Green Cards

credit: Gage Skidmore / Flickr

The Trump administration is drafting a plan to make it harder for legal immigrants who’ve used certain welfare programs — including Obamacare, children’s health insurance, and food stamps — to obtain citizenship or green cards. The new rule is part of White House senior adviser Stephen Miller’s plan to limit the number of migrants who obtain legal status in the U.S. ever year. According to NBC News, the proposal wouldn’t need Congressional approval and would be the biggest overhaul to the legal immigration system in decades. The administration’s reasoning seems to be that these legal immigrants are taking advantage of programs paid for by “American” taxpayers.

More than 20 million immigrants could be affected by the proposed plan.

Low-income immigrants would be hit the hardest if the Trump administration goes through with its plan. Under current immigration law, green card applicants who receive cash welfare payments are considered a “public charge” and are generally ineligible to adjust to permanent resident status. This also applies to immigrant visa applicants overseas — any potential immigrant who is likely to need cash assistance from the government is inadmissible. These rule changes may cause families to preemptively drop out of crucial services like healthcare or children’s nutrition programs.

Immigrants could be rejected from citizenship even if they are making 250 percent above the poverty line.

“The administration is committed to enforcing existing immigration law, which is clearly intended to protect the American taxpayer by ensuring that foreign nationals seeking to enter or remain in the U.S are self-sufficient,” a spokesperson for the Department of Homeland Security told NBC News. “Any proposed changes would ensure that the government takes the responsibility of being good stewards of taxpayer funds seriously and adjudicates immigration benefit requests in accordance with the law.”

 The new policy would exacerbate what has already been a steep decline in the number of green cards issued since President Trump took office.

According to NBC News, in the 2016 fiscal year, the last year under the Obama administration, 1.2 million immigrants became lawful permanent residents, or green-card holders, and 753,060 became naturalized U.S. citizens. Data from the first quarter of the 2018 fiscal year indicates that the administration is on track for a 20 percent drop in immigrants granted green cards.

Many fear that families will have to opt out of programs like food stamps as a result of the new policy.

An estimated 36 percent of immigrant households receive food assistance and 39 percent are on Medicaid. That compared to about 22 percent of native households receiving food assistance and 23 percent enrolled in Medicaid.

“One of our biggest concerns is that people who are eligible for programs such as health and nutrition will be frightened from participating in those programs that we know have immediate and long-term positive effects,” reads a statement from the National Immigration Law Center. “As a result, we will see people who have medical needs forgo services, and families will go hungry.”

The proposal is set to be finalized and released in the coming weeks. A version of the plan has been sent to the White House Office of Management and Budget, the final step before publishing a rule in the federal register.


READ: As Immigration Officers Trick People To Sign Deportation Orders, These Detainees Are Peacefully Fighting Back

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