In an attempt to fight back against Trump’s newest immigration policy, several states have filed a lawsuit against the president. California, Oregon, and Pennsylvania are suing the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), Acting Secretary of DHS Kevin McAleenan, and Acting Director of USCIS Kenneth Cuccinelli for unlawful regulations.
In Trump’s “Public Charge” rule, the DHS can deny green cards to legal immigrants if they use or could potentially use public assistance such as Medicaid, food stamps, and government assistance. Several states have filed lawsuits to prove to the courts that the Trump administration’s specific rule discriminates against certain immigrants, and favors others.
In a statement from the White House, the Trump administration said that the new green card policy is to ensure that immigrants are “self-sufficient and not a strain on public resources.” While the new policies do not apply to refugees or asylum seekers, opposers of the rule say it is designed to discriminate against low-income immigrants and favor immigrants with money. With an immigration system already designed for only a few people to be granted legal status, the new policy can create another obstacle for those looking for a better life.
According to a U.S.Customs and Border Patrol Officer we spoke to, this isn’t a new law. It’s just a harsher law. In the Immigration Nationality Act (INA) legal immigrants who are admissible into the country with a Visa (work or student) have always taken a risk using public services.
“Under section 212 (inadmissibility) an alien (prior to obtaining permanent resident status or a green card) can be deemed inadmissible to the US if that person is likely to become (or has become) a public charge,” an immigration expert and U.S Customs and Border Patrol Officer who would rather not be identified tells HipLatina.
This means that when it is time for a visa holder to apply for permanent residency, there are several things the DHS takes into serious consideration: criminal record, if you’ve been deported, and if you are a “public charge.” If DHS considers you a “public charge,” you may be denied your green card because it means that you are more than likely to accept public assistance in the future.
“[The Trump administration] is going to ban people who actually have obtained medical services or public services from either entering the U.S. or, if they are already here, from getting a U.S. Citizenship,” the immigration expert and U.S Customs and Border Patrol Officer tells us. He states that while there is currently a law that gives the DHS the right to evaluate someone’s status if they do use public services, this can’t be used against permanent residents who have rights, are considered legal, and only need citizenship status. If the public charge rule were to become a law that applies to permanent residents, then those residents would have the legal right to due process in which an immigration judge decides whether a public charge is deemed reason enough to consider a permanent resident for deportation.
The new rule will cover a new set of programs, making it easier for those seeking permanent status to be disqualified. If the new rule goes into effect in mid-October, DHS will consider an immigrant’s health, education and income to predict whether or not they will be needing public assistance and therefore, become a “burden.” Opposers of the rule argue that this is Trump’s way of discriminating against poor immigrants and catering to wealthier immigrants. And because immigrants make up a small percentage of those who get public benefits, the new policy is Trump’s scare tactic.
“This new rule, that will affect Visa holders and immigrants following the immigration processes legally, cannot be changed overnight,” the immigration expert and U.S Customs and Border Patrol Officer said.