On Monday, the Supreme Court ruled to allow the Trump administration to begin implementing new rules making it easier to deny immigrants residency or admission to the country because they have or might use public-assistance programs.
The rules establish new criteria for who can be considered to be dependent on the United States government for benefits — “public charges,” in the words of the law — and thus ineligible for green cards and a path to United States citizenship.
According to the new policy, immigrants who are in the United States legally and use public benefits -- such as Medicaid, food stamps or housing assistance — or have at one time used public benefits, or are deemed likely to someday rely on public benefits would be suspect. The new criteria provide “positive” and “negative” factors for immigration officials to weigh as they decide on green-card applications. Negative factors include whether a person is unemployed, dropped out of high school or is not fluent in English.
Opponents of the rule argue that punishing legal immigrants who need financial help endangers the health and safety of immigrant families — including United States citizen children — and will foist potentially millions of dollars in emergency health care and other costs onto local and state governments, businesses, hospitals and food banks.
Federal officials say the rule ensures that immigrants can cover their own expenses in the United States without burdening taxpayers for food, housing and other costs. U.S. officials note that the change is not retroactive and exempts refugees and asylees who fled persecution for safety in the United States.