Earlier this year, The Department of Homeland Security rolled back a policy instituted under former President Donald Trump that limited immigration benefits for those likely to depend on government aid.
The Biden administration had already stopped enforcing the law since 2021.
The policy, known as the “Public Charge” rule, made it more difficult for to secure a permanent residency in the U.S. if they have used any forms of welfare in the past, including any cash benefits for income maintenance, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) — otherwise known as food stamps, Medicaid, and certain taxpayer-funded housing programs.
Last week, USCIS started imposing Biden’s new Public Charge Final Rule, which states that foreign nationals with a history of welfare dependency will not be excluded from seeking green cards.
The new "public charge" rule is a brazen attempt to ignore congressional mandates and maximize welfare use among non-citizens in the United States. https://t.co/yikAfn2fxQ via @CIS_org
— Mark Krikorian (@MarkSKrikorian) December 27, 2022
The agency put out a statement saying that they “will not consider receipt of noncash benefits (for example, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, public housing, school lunch programs, etc.) other than long-term institutionalization at government expense.”
Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas said in a statement. “This action ensures fair and humane treatment of legal immigrants and their U.S. citizen family members. Consistent with America’s bedrock values, we will not penalize individuals for choosing to access the health benefits and other supplemental government services available to them.”
According to a Harvard/Harris poll done at the time when the Trump administration instituted the policy, about six-in-ten American voters supported preventing welfare-dependent legal immigrants from permanently resettling in the U.S., including 62 percent of swing voters, 77 percent of Republicans, 60 percent of moderate voters, and 64 percent of white Americans.
The regulation was particularly popular among working and middle-class Americans who have no college degree. More than six in ten of these voters support the public charge rule, along with 65 percent of rural voters and 60 percent of suburban voters.
A recent Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) study has calculated that about 63 percent of noncitizen households in the U.S. use at least one form of taxpayer-funded welfare, while only about 35 percent of native-born American households are on welfare.