The Trump administration is combining their hatred of immigrants—even the ones here legally—and of poor people in a new draft regulation obtained by Vox’s Dara Lind. The new regulations would keep legal immigrants from extending their stays, achieving permanent residence and presumably citizenship, and settling in the U.S. if they obtain any of a slew of federal, state, or local social services to which they are legally eligible. That includes if they obtain services like Head Start and CHIP for U.S.-born, citizen children.
The rule can’t make it illegal for these immigrants to obtain the services—that would require legislation—but it would give the government the power to deny their applications “for a new type of visa, or a green card, if they’d used those services.” That even includes Obamacare subsidies, which are available to solidly middle-class families—a family of four can make up to $97,200 and still qualify for the insurance subsidy. But that could put them in the category of a “public charge,” someone using government assistance.
Right now, the government can only consider use of cash benefits, like Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, in “public charge” determinations. The Trump administration wants to give officials the power to look at use of other benefits as well, including:
some “educational benefits,” including use of Head Start for children
Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP)
use of any subsidies, or purchase of subsidized insurance, under the Affordable Care Act
Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) assistance
Housing benefits, like Section 8
Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)
Using any of these for more than six months in the last two years (before applying for a different visa or a green card) would be considered a “heavily weighted” strike against the immigrant. (That strike could be canceled out if an immigrant was making more than 250 percent of the federal poverty level when applying for the new visa or green card—which, for a family of 4 in 2017, was $60,750.)
This is—again—punishing people who come here legally, though it isn’t apparently going to be retroactive. However, legal immigrants—other than refugees and asylees—here now who might use any of these programs after the regulations go into effect could lose the opportunity to stay here permanently.
What a welcome to America, huh?