On Wednesday, Aug. 14, the Department of Homeland Security published the final rule “Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds.” The rule states that as of Oct. 15, DHS may consider an immigrant’s reliance or likelihood to become reliant on public benefits, such as SNAP or Section 8 Housing, to determine if the person should gain legal status. Some people across the U.S. claim this restriction is un-American, so much so that 13 states are suing the federal government for the change.
What Does This Change?
The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) gives DHS the right to deny green cards to immigrants deemed to be “public charges.” Previously, “public charges” referred to people who were primarily dependent on government assistance. Under the new rules, DHS can deny adults who make nearly any use of government assistance programs for more than 12 months in the aggregate within a 36-month period. As a result, immigrants with low incomes may be discouraged from seeking government assistance.
Will the New Public Charge Rules Foster Self-Reliance?
The Trump Administration has said this policy is designed to foster “self-reliance. ”
“Through the public charge rule, President Trump’s administration is reinforcing the ideals of self-sufficiency and personal responsibility, ensuring that immigrants are able to support themselves and become successful here in America,” acting Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Director Ken Cuccinelli Cuccinelli said.
Many people claim the rules are a far cry from the Statue of Liberty’s inscription, “Give me your tired, your poor/ Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”
Who Is Suing the Federal Government?
For what they assert is a un-American immigration policy, attorney generals from across the country have named DHS, Acting Secretary of DHS Kevin McAleenan, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services and their director Kenneth T. Cuccinelli in a lawsuit. The 13 plaintiff states are New Jersey, Colorado, Delaware, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Mexico, Rhode Island, Virginia, and Washington. This is the latest attempt to use the courts to block a Trump-era immigration policy.
New Jersey argues in their 176-page complaint that the Trump Administration’s broadening of the “public charge” goes against the language of the INA.
“The Administration’s efforts to make immigration available only to the well-off are as unlawful as they are inhumane,” Attorney General of New Jersey Gurbir Grewal said.