The Trump administration recently announced new guidelines for green card applicants based on their past reliance on public assistance programs. Lawfully present immigrants who legally use programs like food assistance and Section 8 housing vouchers now could be denied permanent resident status, or green cards, due to their likelihood of becoming a “public charge.” This new policy may cause some low-income immigrants to forego necessary food and housing assistance or risk being denied the opportunity to legally work and live in the U.S., including older immigrants, who may rely on Medicare Part D for assistance with prescription drugs.
Immigrants Using Public Benefits Could Face Denial of Green Cards
Some immigration advocates estimate that the new policy will affect about 382,000 individuals per year. They also fear that the move will cause individuals who already have green cards to forego assistance out of fear of losing their lawful status. Although the policy move reportedly was not to target legal permanent residents, but some immigrants may still fear repercussions from accepting assistance, even if they desperately need it.
Although the federal immigration officials always have required green card applicants to show proof that they were unlikely to become a public charge and considered their usage of cash public assistance, they have never scrutinized the use of non-cash assistance programs, such as food supplement programs. Under the new policy, individuals who use any of these programs will result heavily weighed negative factors against them obtaining legal permanent residency. According to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the new policy is necessary to ensure that those entering the U.S. are able to financially support themselves and not be reliant on public benefits. However, the new policy reportedly will not apply to families who make less than 15% than the official poverty income guidelines.
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