The Trump administration on Saturday said it would propose making it harder for foreigners living in the United States to qualify for permanent US residency if they have received public benefits such as food aid, public housing or Medicaid. The proposed regulation from the Department of Homeland Security would instruct immigration officers to consider whether a person has received a range of taxpayer-funded benefits to which they are legally entitled in determining whether a potential immigrant is likely to become a public burden. The changes would apply to those seeking visas or legal permanent residency.
The Trump administration’s proposal is a sharp departure from current guidelines, which have been in place since 1999 and specifically bar authorities from considering such non-cash benefits in deciding a person’s eligibility to immigrate to the United States or stay in the country.
Immigrant advocates have criticized the administration’s plan, saying that it is an effort to cut legal immigration without going through Congress to change US law. They also believe the rule could negatively affect public health by dissuading immigrants from using health or food aid to which they or their children are entitled.