On Saturday, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) proposed a new restriction that would deny green cards to legal immigrants if they have received or are likely to receive public benefits such as Section 8 housing vouchers, Medicaid, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) or the Medicare Part D low-income subsidy.
The proposed regulation would factor in the usage of public benefit programs above “certain threshold” and potentially deny visas or legal permanent residency, though not those applying for U.S. citizenship.
DHS Secretary Kristjen Nielsen released a statement saying:
“Under long-standing federal law, those seeking to immigrate to the United States must show they can support themselves financially. This proposed rule will implement a law passed by Congress intended to promote immigrant self-sufficiency and protect finite resources by ensuring that they are not likely to be become burdens on American taxpayers.”
Immigrants are legally entitled to a range of taxpayer-funded benefits and current immigration guidelines prevent immigration authorities from considering non-cash benefits in immigration eligibility. However, immigration officials are lawfully allowed to deny an individual permanent residence if they are likely to become “primarily dependent on the government for subsistence.”
More than 382,000 people attempt to obtain permanent residence in the U.S. each year. If the new regulation is passed, an immigrant deemed inadmissible will have to post a bond of at least $10,000 to enter the country.
Once the proposed regulation is entered in the Federal Register, the public will have 60 days to comment on the proposal.