WASHINGTON, United States (AFP) — With the announcement of the new immigration policy, the Trump administration has crushed the hopes of many low-income immigrants who have long dreamed of becoming citizens of the United States.
On Monday, the administration of US President Donald Trump published a document on the Federal Register titled “Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds” which detailed a new policy that enables the administration to deny permanent residency and citizenship to migrants who receive food stamps, Medicaid and other public welfare.
Federal law already requires those seeking green cards and legal status to prove they will not be a burden to the U.S., or what’s called a “public charge,” but the new policy, which takes effect on October 15, has dictated a new set of stipulations which will disqualify even more immigrants.
The policy threatens to set back the citizenship hopes of millions of Caribbean and Latin American migrants, many of who work for low wages and depend, in part, on public services to get by. It also appeared to close the door for impoverished and low-skilled migrants outside the country hoping to legally obtain a foothold in the United States.
Many migrants that move to the US seeking a better life, typically end up in low-income jobs such as maids, cleaning and janitorial jobs among others, because of their immigration status. Other undocumented migrants will attempt to work “under-the-table” in restaurants or retail to provide for themselves and their families.
Announcing a new definition of the longstanding “public charge” law, the White House 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 US 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 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.
“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.
But while the Trump administration state that the new rules are one way to “reinforce self-sufficiency”, the new policies are seemingly another ploy to keep hopefull immigrants out of the United States, and to discourage those already there to stay.
Along with the ICE raids that have forced hundreds of immigrants across many states to walk and work in fear of being deported, Trump’s “new rules” send a message to non-US citizens that they are not permanently welcomed.