U.S. rights groups slam new immigration rules

Trump administration seeks to limit access to U.S. for immigrants who use or are likely to use public assistance

US Agency Proposes Curb on Immigrants Seeking Public Assistance

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services data show that immigrants benefit from public assistance at almost the same rate as non-immigrants, according to a draft version of the new rule, distributed by The Washington Post.

Hundreds of thousands of low-income children and other members of low-income legal immigrant families could drop out of public programs providing healthcare, nutrition and housing assistance due to a controversial proposed Trump administration rule announced Saturday.

Immigrant advocates have criticized the administration's plan, which was first reported by Reuters in February when it was in an early draft form, saying that it is an effort to cut legal immigration without going through Congress to change USA law.

Immigration supporters will likely view the plan as another way the Trump administration is attempting to thwart legal immigration. "This proposed rule change will similarly result in the separation of families and is just the latest assault on immigrant families".

Immigrants could be denied "lawful permanent residency" under the new rule if they have accessed certain government benefits such as food or shelter. In an apparent retreat from a leaked draft of the proposal earlier this year, the DHS proposal would not consider Medicaid or other benefits received by US citizen children as a negative factor in their families' legal residency applications.

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. Healthcare leaders say the coming of the public charge rule is widely known in the immigrant community and that many legal immigrant families already have withdrawn or declined to enroll in programs they or their children qualify for. The existing version of the rule only lists specific monetary benefits.

Speaking to the Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen, Reuters reported that "Under the long-standing federal law, those seeking to immigrate to the United States must show they can support themselves financially". The proposal could make it harder for immigrants to stay in the USA if they are deemed likely to become a "public charge", in other words, a new "burden" for American taxpayers and can potentially be dependent on government assistance.

The administration estimated the regulations would affect about 382,000 people a year. Marielena Hincapié, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center, issued a statement on the proposed rule.

"How you contribute to your community - and not what you look like or the contents of your wallet - should be what matters most". "This proposed rule does the opposite and makes clear that the Trump administration continues to prioritize money over family unity by ensuring that only the wealthiest can afford to build a future in this country".

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