Thomas Gallatin / August 13, 2019

DHS Updates Immigration Rule Limiting Welfare Recipients

The Trump administration enacts rules that limit number of immigration applicants who have used welfare services.

On Monday, the Trump administration released its update to rules on immigration applicants that aims to limit the number of impoverished immigrants allowed to legally enter and remain in the U.S. Acting Citizenship and Immigration Services Director Ken Cuccinelli explained, “This is really an example of President Trump enforcing long-standing law that required people coming to the country or that wanted to be here long term to be self-reliant. That self-sufficiency is a core American value, and it is central to the purpose of this rule.”

Under the update, U.S. immigration authorities will view applicants’ use of government assistance programs as a negative mark against them when considering their eligibility for a temporary visa or a green card. National Review notes that “the rule change will affect those migrants seeking to enter the U.S. and those who entered the country illegally but wish to obtain legal status. [Department of Homeland Security] officials will take into account would-be immigrants’ education, skills, employment history, health, and a number of other factors to determine whether they are likely to become dependent on the government.”

The change broadens the scope of the “public charge” rule that in 1996 had been limited to only cash-assistance programs to now include non-cash government assistance programs. The change is aimed at limiting the number of new migrants who take advantage of the nation’s welfare programs. As The Wall Street Journal reports, “The use or potential use of a benefits program such as Medicaid, some types of housing assistance or food stamps could disqualify an applicant.”

The idea that the kind of immigrants who the U.S. should seek are those who are primarily motivated by the opportunities afforded by Liberty and not those looking for government-provided handouts has been long held throughout most of America’s history. And this latest effort by Trump is intended to restore this perspective on immigration within the U.S. government. Preventing further abuse of America’s arguably overly generous welfare programs is the goal.

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