Under the rule, immigration officials have far greater power to deny visas and green cards to people they believe might use public benefits in the United States—even small amounts used decades after becoming U.S. citizens.
People wanting to immigrate to the United States or obtain a green card while already inside the country will now be blocked if it’s deemed they are likely to: Enroll in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, certain Medicaid benefits, or government-subsidized housing.
Last month, the U.S. Supreme Court allowed the rule go into place everywhere except Illinois where another challenge was still pending. On Friday, the court allowed the rule to go into effect nationwide while multiple challenges work their way through the lower courts.
Immigration officials are now required to determine whether someone is “likely at any time” to use certain social benefits while in the US. As a result, the rule gives “heavily positive” weight to people who earn above a certain threshold, while those who make below a certain amount have “heavily negative” chances.
The rule also discriminates against people with disabilities and those who don’t speak English. Both get counted as “negative” factors when an official predicts whether someone might use benefits.
The new rule is expected to block hundreds of thousands of immigrants each year from obtaining a visa or a green card.
The National Foundation for American Policy predicts that one of the most severe drops will come in the category of immediate relatives of U.S. citizens.
They predict a 47% drop in that category from 566,706 in fiscal year 2016 to a projected 299,131 in fiscal year 2021. This change would be due in large part to the public charge rule and other Trump policies restricting legal immigration.
That means that many Americans will be blocked from bringing over their parents, children, and spouses. This could force people to move abroad if they want to be with their loved ones.
Immigrants from Africa and the Caribbean and Africa are nearly twice as likely than immigrants from Europe and Canada to have incomes below the income threshold set by the public charge rule.
Yet research shows that immigrants from those communities thrive and contribute to the United States just as much as immigrants from other locations.
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