The Trump Administration’s New Immigration Policy Affects Families Using Public Benefits: What You Need to Know
The Trump administration is on the brink of making immigration more challenging for people seeking to live in the U.S. lawfully. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is currently working on a new set of rulesthat could prohibit immigrants from entering the U.S., extending their stays, or even becoming green-card holders or American citizens—if they or immediate U.S. family members have exercised their legal right to use certain local, state or federal public benefit or services.
The benefit programs that trigger heightened scrutiny would include: the Children’s Health Insurance Program; Head Start; Women, Infants and Children’s assistance; food stamps; Section 8 housing benefits; or the use of any subsidies or the purchase of subsidized insurance as required under the Affordable Care Act.
According to a report by Vox, the government would be likely to deem immigrants or American-born family members who have used such services for more than six months in the last two years as a “public charge.” This label would count as a “heavily weighted” strike against immigrants in applying for an entry visa, change of status visa, or in an application for citizenship.
Avoiding the “Public Charge” Label
At this point, it seems that immigrants may avoid the public charge label in one of three potential avenues: First, they may not be considered a public charge if they use public services, but either the immigrant or a family member makes 250 percent of the federal poverty level—approximately over $60,000 for a family of four. They may also avoid the label if a U.S. citizen signs an “affidavit of support,” promising to support them at 125 percent of the federal poverty level.
Finally, if the DHS permits it, they may avoid the label by paying a minimum $10,000 bond. However, if the immigrant or immediate family member uses any public benefit in the five years after posting the bond, they’d forfeit the entire amount.
Consequences of the Proposed Rules
These rules, if approved, would substantially broaden the federal government’s power to bar certain immigrants from the United States. The government has long had the authority to deny entryto immigrants considered likely to become public charges, but previously these were only people expected to need cash benefits. These rule changes may affect an estimated 20 million people.
Under the new proposed rules, the government could deem an immigrant a public charge because that person—or their American family member—has used almost any form of government assistance.
These rules would force immigrant families to make the difficult choice between staying in the United States and seeking the public assistance needed to help a sick, young or needy American family member.
The experienced immigration attorneys at Zanes Laware eager to help immigrant families protect their status and right to stay in the United States. If you are in need of immigration help, please contact usor call us at 844-666-8181 for a private consultation today.
To learn more about immigration attorney Doug Zanes, please visit his personal injury website at zaneslaw.com.