The Department of Homeland Security has a new idea to make the lives of immigrants even more miserable.
The agency is seeking approval by the Trump administration for a bill that will deny immigrants visas, visa extensions and even permanent residency if they use, or are likely to use, virtually any government benefit — even claiming tax credits.
Currently, the department imposes penalties on immigrants who receive cash welfare payments as they are considered “public charge.” However, the new proposal would require immigration caseworkers to consider a much broader range of factors, including earned-income tax credits, health insurance subsidies and other “non-cash public benefits.”
Although media outlets previously reported on the proposal, the extended draft obtained by The Washington Post indicates how far the Trump administration is willing to go to deny the vulnerable immigrants their basic rights and increase their chances of deportation.
The reforms will apply to those who are seeking U.S. immigration visas or legal permanent residency, such as foreigners with work visa close to expiration. Although the changes won't have much impact on undocumented immigrants, those protected under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) could receive the full brunt of the legislation if they try to file for legal residency.
The most drastic changes outlined in the proposal is the earned-income tax credit, which was created to help moderate- to low-income families, particularly people who work in low-paying service industries.
Immigration workers would not be penalized for benefits derived from armed forces services or other government jobs, along with disability, workers’ compensation and Medicare, unless the premiums are paid in full by the public. It would also exclude public school education and early childhood development programs. However, children would be a minus point for an immigrant who is likely to use public benefits.
The impact of such a law will be drastic to immigrants.
Immigrant families facing short-term financial crisis will have to give up on getting assistance to avoid jeopardizing their residency status. The proposal will also require more immigrants to post cash bonds, with a minimum amount of $10,000, if there is a greater likelihood of them needing public benefits. The amount would be set higher depending on how high the probability of an immigrant needing benefits is.
Ironically, the percentage of native-born Americans who use public benefits is almost the same as those born in foreign countries. Out of the 41.5 million immigrants living in the United States, 3.7 percent received cash benefits while 22.7 percent received non-cash benefits like housing assistance and Medicaid in 2013, according to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
Meanwhile, out of the 270 million native-born Americans, 3.4 percent received cash benefits and 22.1 percent received non-cash welfare.
DHS found that immigrants rely on public benefits at roughly same rates as native-born Americans. But immigrants would get demerits for using them— even for taking popular tax credits. We’ve posted the Trump admin’s draft proposal here: https://t.co/pJ7jsoNVZZ— Nick Miroff (@NickMiroff) March 28, 2018
Trump's compulsive attacks on immigrants – in this case, legal immigrants – are incredibly destructive. Immigrants (who pay taxes) & native-born Americans use public benefits at identical rates. This is abt fomenting division & distracting from pervasive corruption https://t.co/OcMEt5vqD4— Samantha Power (@SamanthaJPower) March 28, 2018
This proposal somehow brings together the two of the most striking features of the Trump Admin: criminalization of poverty and white supremacy— Jeremy Slevin (@jeremyslevin) March 28, 2018
This is both cruel and counterproductive.— Alyona (@AlyonaMink) March 28, 2018
"Immigrants who accept almost any form of welfare or public benefit, even popular tax deductions, could be denied legal U.S. residency under a proposal awaiting approval" by Trump admin. https://t.co/hZAn04nhlj
The United States has a long habit of denying residence or benefits to non-citizens who are dependent on assistance and ever since President Donald Trump assumed office, he has blamed the dependency of immigrants on “horrible chain migration.” The new reform is part of Trump’s attempt to thwart even legal immigration from someone who believes these immigrants are a burden on the federal budget.
Considering the fact that immigrants use public assistance at the same rates as U.S.-born Americans, this new policy is a very transparent ploy to get rid of immigrants living in America.
Banner / Thumbnail : REUTERS/Mike Blake