The United States is going to make it harder for immigrants to come to or stay in the country if they or members of their family use certain public benefits.
According to CNN, the proposed rule, announced by the Department of Homeland Security, may make several immigrants illegible for visas or green cards if they are likely to receive some public benefits once they come to the country.
These benefits include public housing, healthcare and food stamps. The proposed rule will also affect changes in the legal status of immigrants.
The proposal is an expansion of the ‘public charge’ concept, which means someone who is likely to become dependent on the government, if they aren’t already. The US government’s immigration policies have been governed by this rule for a while but define being dependent on the government for direct cash assistance or government-funded long-term care.
The changes would apply to those seeking visas or legal permanent residency, but do not affect people applying for US citizenship, according to Reuters.
“Under long-standing federal law, those seeking to immigrate to the United States must show they can support themselves financially,” Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said in a DHS statement.
“This proposed rule will implement a law passed by Congress intended to promote immigrant self-sufficiency and protect finite resources by ensuring that they are not likely to become burdens on American taxpayers,” she said.
However, immigration activists believe the rule will hurt the country in the long run. Marielena Hincapié, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center, issued a statement on the proposed rule.
“How you contribute to your community — and not what you look like or the contents of your wallet — should be what matters most. This proposed rule does the opposite and makes clear that the Trump administration continues to prioritise money over family unity by ensuring that only the wealthiest can afford to build a future in this country,” she said.
Once the rule is formally published in the federal register a public comment period will begin where US citizens and interest groups can submit feedback for 60 days. The Department of Homeland Security has to review those comments before finalising the rule.