Ken Cuccinelli, the acting director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced a new regulation that will dramatically reshape the immigration system. The policy mandates that green cards and visas will not be granted to applicants who have low income or little education.
The regulation aims to discourage low income applicants to go to the U.S by removing provisions covering a wide range of federal, state and local government benefits. These benefits include food stamps, housing vouchers, and Medicaid to legal immigrants.
“Through the public charge rule, President Trump’s administration is reinforcing the ideal of self-sufficiency and personal responsibility, ensuring that immigrants are able to support themselves and become successful in America,” Cuccinelli said.
When asked about whether the rule is unfairly targeting low-income immigrants, Cuccinelli responded by saying that the policy should be viewed differently:
“We certainly expect people of any income to be able to stand on their own two feet, so if people are not able to be self-sufficient, than this negative factor is going to bear very heavily against them in a decision about whether they’ll be able to become a legal permanent resident.”
Cuccinelli explained that the administration is merely trying to enforce a long-standing goal of U.S. immigration law, which is to prevent individuals from becoming a “public charge.”
Immigration advocates quickly denounced the new rule. New York Attorney General Letitia James announced her plans to block the rule.
“President Trump’s new public charge rule is yet one more example of his Administration turning its back on people fighting to make a better life for them and their families,” James said in a statement.
“Under this rule, children will go hungry; families will go without medical care. I am committed to defending all of New York’s communities, which is why I intend to sue the Trump Administration over this egregious rule.”
Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke immediately criticized Trump administration’s move.
“Legal. Undocumented. Refugee. Asylum Seeker. The distinctions don’t matter to President Trump. If you’re an immigrant, he believes you have no place in this country—even though, for 243 years, immigrants have made America the greatest nation the world has ever known,” the former Texas congressman tweeted.
The rule has been set to take full effect in 60 days but legal challenges from immigrant-rights advocates are expected to arise.