DHS Proposes Denying Green Cards To Immigrants Who Use Public Aid

Sep 23, 2018
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RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And in other news, the Trump administration is proposing to deny green cards to immigrants, in particular those who use a wide range of public benefits, like nutrition assistance and subsidized health insurance. The administration says it's trying to ensure that immigrants are self-sufficient. But as NPR's Joel Rose reports, activists worry about the effect on families.

JOEL ROSE: Under the proposal, many immigrants in the country legally would still be eligible for public benefits - things like food stamps or Medicaid prescription drug coverage. But they could be forced to choose between using those benefits and getting a green card to stay in the U.S. The Trump administration says it's enforcing a part of immigration law that dates back to the 19th century - the notion that immigrants cannot be a, quote, "public charge." But under past administrations, the public charge rule was interpreted to cover only cash assistance. Now the administration wants to expand the definition to include a wide range of noncash benefits, too.

Immigrant rights advocates and public health officials say that could inflict long-term damage on immigrants and their children. They say there's already been a chilling effect, with many immigrants dropping out of benefit programs even before the rule was officially proposed. Once it's published in the Federal Register, the public will have 60 days to comment. Joel Rose, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.