DHS has outlined new potential rules aimed at barring a pathway to legal residence for immigrants who receive benefits or aid to dependents.


In what is being critiqued as one avenue of attack against legal immigration, the Trump administration is considering a new policy that would target foreign-born people living in the U.S. who have received, or have U.S. citizen children who have received, public assistance. The policy would allow immigration officials to consider a broad range of public benefits programs as potential disqualifiers for immigrants pursuing legal residency, thus cutting off hundreds of thousands from legal status and even a pathway to citizenship. We want to emphasize that this document is not yet law, but rather a draft proposal of potential new rules.

Immigration policy has long held that immigrants who would likely be a “public charge”—in other words, primarily dependent on the U.S. government for basic subsistence or long-term care—should be excluded from the pathway to legal residence and beyond. The new policy would greatly expand the types of assistance that could be considered, including food assistance (even for U.S.-born children), government preschool programs, health insurance subsidies, and more.

The Department of Homeland Security, which has drafted but not yet adopted the new rules, claims that they are in line with the department’s duty as custodians of taxpayer money (ignoring that immigrants are often taxpayers themselves and even entitled to certain legal benefits). Further, DHS argues that these benefits may incentivize “aliens to immigrate to the United States.”

We would point out that such language doesn’t even make the usual distinction between “legal” and “illegal” immigrants. Immigrant advocates and other critics of the policy agree: the new rules are meant to discourage legal immigration, which the administration has publicly announced it hopes to cut by up to 50% in the next decade.

Soberalski Immigration Law recognizes the vast, priceless contributes immigrants have always made to the United States. We oppose any effort to demonize immigrants or discourage them from seeking a better life in this country they love. As the Trump administration grows increasingly hostile to immigrants of all stripes, we encourage you to please call our office at 414-533-5000 to make an appointment. We hope to ensure that you take full advantage of the pathways to legal status available to you.

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