The Trump administration today is reinstating a Clinton-era welfare reform rule, once widely embraced by top Democrats in Congress, requiring immigrants to be self-sufficient, a move that could end up to $3 billion in federal and state welfare payments to them.
After receiving a blessing from the Supreme Court Friday, the “Public Charge Grounds Final Rule” kicked in nationally, essentially forcing immigrants to prove that they won’t become a burden on taxpayers.
Under the rule, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services “will look at the factors required under the law by Congress, like an alien’s age, health, income, education, and skills, among others, in order to determine whether the alien is likely at any time to become a public charge,” said an official.
— USCIS (@USCIS) February 22, 2020
The rule is expected to affect millions and force many immigrants to shift off public welfare programs so that they are not deported. Some of the programs covered include Supplemental Security Income, cash assistance from the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program, and state or local general assistance programs. The use of Medicare can also be included.
“Self-sufficiency is a core American value and has been part of immigration law for centuries,” said Ken Cuccinelli, acting deputy secretary of Homeland Security and acting director of USCIS. “By requiring those seeking to come or stay in the United States to rely on their own resources, families, and communities, we will encourage self-sufficiency, promote immigrant success and protect American taxpayers,” he added.
The rule recently published in the Federal Register said there will be some costs associated with the change, but that there will also be a substantial reduction in the use of welfare programs.
In one section, it was estimated that there will be a reduction of $2.74 billion a year “due to disenrollment or foregone enrollment in public benefits programs by foreign-born non-citizens who may be receiving public benefits.”
Another reduction of $1.01 billion will come from federal medical spending tapped by immigrants.
A Department of Homeland Security official told Secrets that the president’s goal was not budget savings but enforcing laws on the books.
“The intent behind implementing the Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds Final Rule is not to save money, but rather to faithfully execute the nation’s long-standing public charge inadmissibility law, and better ensure that aliens seeking to come to and remain in the United States temporarily or permanently are able to support themselves as they seek opportunity here, relying on their own capabilities and the resources of their families, sponsors, and private organizations, rather than public resources,” said the official.
Several states have challenged the rule and lost in the Supreme Court. Several Democrats backed the rule when it was OK’d in 1996, but have since turned on it. They include Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer.