WH proposal would make it easier to deport immigrants who use public benefits

Saturday, May 4, 2019
By Paul Martin

YEGANEH TORBATI
AOL.COM
May 4th 2019

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Trump administration is considering reversing long-standing policy to make it easier to deport U.S. legal permanent residents who have used public benefits, part of an effort to restrict immigration by low-income people.

A Department of Justice draft regulation, seen by Reuters, dramatically expands the category of people who could be subject to deportation on the grounds that they use benefits.

Currently, those legal permanent residents who are declared to be a “public charge,” or primarily dependent on the government for subsistence, can be deported – but in practice, this is very rare.

The draft regulation would use a more expansive definition to include some immigrants who have used an array of public benefits, including cash welfare, food stamps, housing aid, or Medicaid.

While the plan is at an early stage, might not become official government policy, and is likely to attract lawsuits, it is one part of efforts by the Trump administration to restrict legal immigration, in addition to its efforts to reduce illegal immigration to the United States.

The full possible impact is not known, but the change in policy could affect permanent residents – also known as “green card” holders – who are legally entitled to use public benefits soon after their arrival in the United States, such as refugees.

Department of Justice spokesman Alexei Woltornist said the agency “does not comment on or confirm draft regulations.”

U.S. law allows for the deportation of immigrants who have become “public charges” within five years of admission if their reason for seeking help preceded their entry to the United States – for example if they had a chronic health condition that was not disclosed.

But due to a 1948 ruling, the deportation of immigrants for using public benefits has been strictly limited to cases in which the government has demanded payment for public services, and the person has failed to pay. Immigration lawyers said they have rarely if ever heard of someone being deported for using public benefits.

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