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Expert: New 'Public Charge' Rule Likely to Mean More Green Cards Denied

August 13, 2019 (1 min read)

Tessa Berenson, Brian Bennett, Time Magazine, Aug. 13, 2019

"Immigration groups vowed to fight a Trump Administration plan to deny green cards to applicants who use Medicaid, food stamps and other forms of public assistance, as experts warned the change would disproportionately affect low-income immigrants.

Starting Oct. 15, if an applicant for a green card is deemed “more likely than not” to become a “public charge” for using Medicaid, food stamps, housing vouchers or other forms of public assistance for more than 12 months in aggregate within any 36 month period, it will be weighed as “heavily negative factor” in considering the application, Ken Cuccinelli, acting director of United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, announced on Monday.

Federal law already allows immigration officials to ensure that applicants would not burden the United States by being what is called a “public charge,” but the Trump Administration’s new rule clarifies and broadens what forms of public assistance are applicable.

“It’s an effort to limit migration into the U.S. to wealthy people,” says John Sandweg, who served as acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement under President Obama. The rule, Sandweg says, is part of the Trump administration’s broader effort to reduce legal immigration.

... Stephen Yale-Loehr, professor of immigration law at Cornell Law School, said in a statement he is also concerned about the amount of leeway it grants the government in deciding whether or not someone is likely to use public benefits.

“In this Administration, that is likely to mean more denials based on public charge concerns,” Yale-Loehr says."