‘To protect benefits for American citizens, immigrants must be financially self-sufficient…’
(AFP) The administration of President Donald Trump announced Monday new rules that aim to prevent immigrants who receive food stamps, Medicaid and other public welfare from being granted permanent residency and citizenship.
Announcing a new definition of the longstanding “public charge” law, the Department of Homeland Security said migrants will be blocked from entering the country if they are likely to need public assistance.
In addition, those already here and using public services will not be able to obtain green cards or citizenship.
“To protect benefits for American citizens, immigrants must be financially self-sufficient,” Trump said in a White House statement.
“Large numbers of non-citizens and their families have taken advantage of our generous public benefits, limited resources that could otherwise go to vulnerable Americans,” the statement said.
The ruling could impact some 22 million non-citizen legal residents of the country, and the estimated 10.5 million illegal immigrants, most of them-long-term residents.
The White House said that half of all non-citizen households include at least one person using Medicaid, the government-run health program.
It said that 78 percent of households headed by a non-citizen with no more than a high school education use at least one welfare program.
According to Census data, nearly twice as many households headed by illegals rely on public services as those headed by U.S. citizens.
“Through the public charge rule, President Trump’s administration is reinforcing the ideals of self-sufficiency and personal responsibility, ensuring that immigrants are able to support themselves and become successful here in America,” said Ken Cuccinelli, acting director of US Citizenship and Immigration Services.
Mark Krikorian, executive director of the immigration-reform watchdog Center for Immigration Studies, commended the crackdown.
“There are hundreds of millions of people who want to move to the United States, and this rule ensures that we allow in only those who will be able to pay their own bills,” Krikorian said.
He added that it may not be the immigrants’ fault that they were dependent on public services, but that it was a drain on U.S. taxpayers nonetheless as a result of bad immigration policies that encouraged them to come.
“The heavy use of welfare by immigrant households is not the result of laziness or some other moral shortcoming; immigrants are as likely to work as native-born Americans,” Krikorian said. “Instead, it is the inevitable result of admitting people with little education, meaning that they will have low earnings in a modern, knowledge-based economy.”
Liberty Headlines’ Ben Sellers contributed to this report.
© Agence France-Presse