Trump administration weighs up on reversing long standing policy
The Trump administration is weighing up reversing a long-standing policy to make it easier to deport U.S. legal permanent residents who are on welfare.
The White House is considering the move as part of an effort to restrict immigration by low-income people.
The Department of Justice draft regulation would expand people subjected to deportation.
But those legal permanent residents who are e declared to be a ‘public charge,’ or dependant of government welfare, can be deported in practice, although it is rare.
The draft regulation would include immigrants who use public benefits, including cash welfare, food stamps, housing aid, or Medicaid.
The move is one of the Trump administrations efforts to quell legal immigration, in addition to its aims to reduce illegal immigration.
The impact of the policy could affect refugees who hold green cards, taking the strain of the use of public welfare.
According to The Daily Mail: U.S. law allows for the deportation of immigrants who have become ‘public charges’ within five years of admission if their motivation for seeking help preceded their entry to the United States – for example, if they had a chronic health condition that was not disclosed.
But due to a 1948 ruling, the deportation of immigrants for using public benefits has been strictly limited to cases in which the government has demanded payment for public services, and the person has failed to pay.
Immigration lawyers said they have rarely if ever heard of someone being deported for using public benefits.
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The draft rule indicates the government would override that precedent to allow for the deportation of some permanent residents who have used certain public benefits within five years of admission.
For the plan to go into effect, it would be subject to public comment, after which it could be revised.
Attorney General William Barr would then have to sign off on it.
The public benefits in question include Supplemental Security Income (SSI), given to disabled and older people; the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP), commonly known as food stamps; Section 8 housing vouchers; many Medicaid benefits; and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), a cash assistance program.
According to federal policy, many permanent residents do not qualify for public benefits unless they have had a green card for five years, making it unlikely they could be targeted for deportation based on ‘public charge’ even under the draft rule.
But dozens of states have looser rules – for instance, allowing pregnant women and children who are permanent residents to access Medicaid without a waiting period.
And the effort to tighten the rules could affect thousands of immigrant veterans, refugees, and asylees, who are eligible to receive many benefits without time restrictions. Active members of the military would not be affected.
Administration officials had earlier indicated that the Justice Department, which oversees U.S. immigration courts, planned to issue a regulation on who can be deported for using public benefits, but its details were not previously known.
Immigrant advocates said the impact of the possible change is unclear because it would be such a departure from long-standing practice.
“We’re in new territory here because this has never been tested,” said Charles Wheeler, an attorney with the Catholic Legal Immigration Network non-profit group.
“I’m concerned that it’s going to be targeted at permanent resident aliens who otherwise thought they were free and clear to receive SSI and other public benefit programs.”