Green cards for immigrants on benefits could be limited

Trump administration seeks to limit access to U.S. for immigrants who use or are likely to use public assistance

Trump administration seeks to limit access to U.S. for immigrants who use or are likely to use public assistance

The rule would go into effect after a public comment period, at which point it could be challenged in court. But they could be forced to choose between using those benefits and getting a green card to stay in the U.S. The Trump administration says it's enforcing a part of immigration law that dates back to the 19th century - the notion that immigrants cannot be a, quote, "public charge".

When it comes to deciding how likely a prospective immigrant is to use these benefits, the government could consider any number of listed criteria.

While applying for temporarily visiting or residency, if a foreigner is receiving one or more of the public benefits mentioned in the proposal, that could be counted as a reason to turn down the visa request or determining their eligibility to come to or remain in the United States.

"Under long-standing federal law, those seeking to immigrate to the United States must show they can support themselves financially", Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen said in a statement to Reuters.

The administration estimated the regulations would affect about 382,000 people a year. But many experts said it would have a far broader impact. Based on the earlier leaked draft, the Kaiser Family Foundation estimated that up to 2 million children who are US citizens with immigrant parents could drop out of Medicaid and CHIP and most would become uninsured.

The proposed rule is more limited than a previous version of the guidelines, which would have included immigrants who use Affordable Care Act health care plans and certain tax credits, among other programs. In 2016, there were 10.4 million citizen children with at least one parent who isn't a citizen, and 56% had Medicaid or CHIP coverage.

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Immigrant advocacy groups said people may avoid or withdraw from public aid programs even at the risk of losing shelter and suffering deteriorating health because they worry they will be denied visas. These include Medicaid, CHIP, the Women's, Infants, and Children nutrition program and free school lunches.

US immigration laws have long contained provisions limiting foreigners who are likely to be dependent on financial aid and therefore a "public charge".

A protester wearing a mask depicting US President Donald Trump taking part in a rally against the deportation of immigrants, in NY in July. Critics pointed to the timing of the announcement six weeks before the hotly contested congressional and state elections, in which immigration is a major issue.

Immigrant advocates have criticized the administration's plan, which was first reported by Reuters in February when it was in an early draft form, saying that it is an effort to cut legal immigration without going through Congress to change USA law.

There is possibility of changes in the proposed rule before it is being promulgated.

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