In August, the Trump Administration announced a change in immigration policy that will make it more difficult for immigrants to access certain public benefits and to obtain a green card and American citizenship.
Known as the “public charge rule”, the change will take effect this October, empowering the government to select immigrants entering the United States who are deemed more likely to be self-sufficient and depend less on services like housing vouchers, Medicaid, and food stamps. The term “public charge” refers to a foreign-born person who depends primarily on the government for support.
This new rule change is indicative of the President’s efforts to make the U.S. immigration process more prohibitive overall and reduce the flow of foreign-born individuals into the country. Ken Cuccinelli, Acting Director of United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, says the new rule is designed to attract new citizens, “who can stand on their own two feet” and will not rely on the already-taxed welfare system.
The change expands the categories that can be considered when evaluating if an individual is likely to become a public charge. Limited English-speaking skills, certain physical and/or mental conditions, and minimum income levels can now be used to assess – and likely reject – some applicants.
Opposition to the Public Charge Rule Change
Immigration experts who oppose the rule change feel it affords the government too much discretion to presume which immigrants would potentially utilize public services upon entering the United States. By giving immigration officials the green light to evaluate applicants based on their education, job history and prospects, English language skills, and income, they also get to determine the makeup of our future immigrant population.
By offering preference to wealthier, better-educated, and more privileged individuals, emphasis shifts from the family-based immigration philosophy to merit-based immigration, defying the values that United States immigration policies were founded upon. This shift gives already well-to-do men and women better access to citizenship, while overlooking the people who may need or benefit from it most.
The Changing Face of Immigration
Even before the public charge rule change takes effect this fall, the face of immigration has shown signs of change over the past decade.
The Migration Policy Institute analyzed the background of immigrants and recent years and found individuals from Canada and Europe were less likely to have their green card applications rejected, while Mexican and Central American-born applicants were more likely to be denied. Between last October and this July, 43 of visa rejections for public-charge grounds belonged to Mexican nationals. This change reflects a concerted effort to focus on immigrants who are historically less inclined to utilize public services.
Philadelphia Immigration Lawyers at Surin & Griffin, P.C. Advocate for Those Seeking United States Citizenship
The public charge rule is one of various U.S. immigration laws designed to make it more challenging for certain foreign-born individuals to live and work in the country. If you have questions about what it means to be a public charge and how this can impact your status, trust the caring, experienced Philadelphia immigration lawyers at firm Surin & Griffin, P.C. to handle your immigration matter with skill and compassion.
As a multilingual firm, we are able to consult with you in your own language so you can get answers to all of the important questions needed to resolve your immigration issue as quickly and effectively as possible. To learn more about our services, call 215-925-4435 or contact us online today. Based in Center City Philadelphia, our team of dedicated Philadelphia citizenship lawyers represents clients throughout the state of Pennsylvania and the nation.