Immigrants who use public benefits could be penalized by Trump’s new policies

benefitsUnder a new move to further limit the number of foreigners living in the United States, a new proposal is awaiting the Trump’s administration’s approval. If approved, it could make it more difficult for immigrants receiving tax credits or public assistance to obtain legal residency.

Immigrants are also penalized, under the current rules, for receiving cash welfare assistance, as they are considered “public charges.” The new rules, however, would broaden the definition of “benefits,” to include some of the most commonly claimed tax credits, such as the earned-income tax credit. In addition, health insurance subsidies and other “non-cash public benefits,” will be considered public charges as well.

The rule would affect those seeking legal permanent residencies or immigration visas, likely not affecting those who are here illegally or under DACA, until an application for legal residency takes place. Most notably, the new rule would require more immigrants to post cash bonds if they have a higher probability of needing these resources. The proposal outlines that the minimum amount would be $10,000, according to the Department of Homeland Security, and can increase if an applicant appears more in need of the resources.

DHS has stated that the proposal is not yet finalized, but their goal remains clear. DHS spokeswoman, Katie Waldman, stated “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.” She also added, “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 differences between the existing rules and the proposal are striking. The proposal considers refundable tax income credits, which are claimed by almost 20 percent of American taxpayers. It would exclude elementary and secondary public education, and early childhood development programs under Head Start. The proposal would not encourage caseworkers to consider benefits derived from government jobs, military service, workers’ compensation, disability or Medicare, unless the premiums are paid by the public in full. Children would be considered a negative factor for caseworkers, however, indicating a possible likelihood of using public assistance.

The proposal states: “DHS will consider whether the alien being a dependent or having dependents… makes it more or less likely that the alien will become a public charge.” It also states that “the receipt of noncash benefits tended to increase as family size increased in 2013.”

Though there is no date set, DHS officials have also stated that they are preparing to publish the proposal in the Federal Register, inviting public comment. Previously, U.S. authorities could deny residency to immigrants receiving public assistance. These concerns were the partial basis for the immigration model that has been in place for the past 50 years or so, which is a family-based model. However, since its campaign trail, the Trump administration has insisted on an agenda that places American workers and residents first, leading to controversial policies adversely affecting immigrants. Trump himself blames the family model for “horrible chain migration,” and has indicated he seeks to end it.

It is worth noting that the rate at which immigrants and native-born Americans receive assistance is almost the same. In 2013, approximately 3.7 percent of immigrants received cash benefits, compared to 3.4 percent for non-immigrants. In the same year, approximately 22.7 percent of immigrants accepted non-cash benefits, such as Medicaid, heating subsidies or housing subsidies, while 22.1 percent of non-immigrants received the same benefits.

Source: Washington Post