Now the Trump administration is trying to punish legal immigrants for being poor

tags: immigration, Trump, naturalization

Torrie Hester is an associate professor of history at Saint Louis University and author of "Deportation: Origins of U.S. Policy." Mary E. Mendoza is assistant professor of history and Latinx studies at Penn State University and the David J. Weber Fellow for Study of Southwestern America at the Clements Center for Southwest Studies at Southern Methodist University. Deirdre Moloney is a U.S. historian whose most recent book is "National Insecurities: Immigrants and U.S Deportation Policy Since 1882." Mae Ngai is Lung Family professor of Asian American Studies and professor of history at Columbia University, and author of "Impossible Subjects: Illegal Aliens and the Making of Modern America" and "The Lucky Ones: One Family and the Extraordinary Invention of Chinese America."

Recent reporting indicates that the Department of Homeland Security is planning to significantly limit legal immigration and naturalization by changing the rules on immigration and welfare that have been central to the immigration system for more than 400 years. DHS wants to change the definition of what constitutes a public charge — someone dependent on the state —  to deny green cards to legal migrants who are low-wage  workers by considering their use, or likely use, of almost any government benefit as criteria for determining who may enter or remain in the United States. These benefits would include welfare, food stamps, Medicaid, children’s health insurance (CHIP), the earned income tax credit or  the health-care subsidies provided by the Affordable Care Act.

The proposal, which is expected to be posted soon in the Federal Register, is the administration’s latest attack on immigrant families, coming on the heels of its cruel and unlawful practice of separating families seeking asylum at the border and detaining children in prisonlike conditions.

This is a radical change from historical and current policy.

Yes, there is a “public charge” clause in immigration law that allows the government to take severe action against immigrants who depend primarily upon the government for subsistence. Currently, to be barred from entry, immigrants must arrive without funds and be judged unemployable, making them likely to become a public charge. To be removed after entry, immigrants must have received cash benefits from the government for “general maintenance” or have experienced long-term institutionalization.

But this rule change wildly expands this “public charge” clause, using access to a wide array of social benefits as a means of increasing immigration restriction. Such a change would potentially deny green cards to tens of thousands of people who are eligible under current rules,  curtailing their eligibility for naturalization  and have a chilling effect on noncitizens who now use public benefits. ...

Read entire article at The Washington Post