New US rule on immigration could impact Indians

Donald Trump

The new policy for "Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds", which appeared Monday on the Federal Register's website and will take effect in two months, sets new standards for obtaining permanent residency and US citizenship.

Immigrant rights groups are blasting the Trump administration's new rules that could deny green cards to immigrants if they use forms of public assistance like food stamps or Medicaid.

"It will also have the long-term benefit of protecting taxpayers by ensuring people who are immigrating to this country don't become public burdens, that they can stand on their own two feet, as immigrants in years past have done", Cuccinelli said.

Known as the "public charge" provision, the process evaluates a person's likelihood to become primarily dependent on government assistance.

The Trump administration has pushed aggressively against undocumented immigrants arguing it favours legal immigration, which it has sought to overhaul at the same time to protect local Americans from being displaced, under the overarching vision laid out by the president, "Buy American, Hire Americans".

Homeland Security officials say they made a series of changes to the proposed rules following 266,000 public comments.

Immigration officials, under the change, could also take into account an applicant's financial resources, health, education, skills, family status and age.

It is likely to impact Indians even though majority are in the United States either on short-term work visas such as the H-1B and on F-1 visas for students, and are able to take care of themselves without assistance from the government.

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Trump has on multiple occasions alluded to the types of people that he would like to keep from coming to the United States (Africans, Haitians, Muslims, Central Americans, etc.), and those he would like to see more of (Norwegians), drawing frequent allegations of overt racism from Democrats and some Republicans.

The Los Angeles-based National Immigration Law Center immediately vowed to file a lawsuit challenging the changes that take effect in October.

Speaking at a White House press briefing Monday morning, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Acting Director Ken Cuccinelli said the rule would help promote "self-reliance" among immigrants.

Experts estimate that this rule, called the "Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds", is the most significant of the Trump administration's immigration moves and could cut legal immigration by half.

Applicants will now need to show higher levels of income to get a visa and the rule greatly expands the list of government benefits that would disqualify them from obtaining US residency.

"Public charge is now defined in a way that ensures the law is meaningfully enforced and those that are subject to it are self-sufficient", Cuccinelli told reporters Monday.

But in New York City, where almost 20% of the population relies on SNAP benefits to help feed their families, officials have found that twice as many "eligible noncitizen New Yorkers are either withdrawing from or not enrolling in SNAP" than eligible USA citizens, particularly in the past two years as rumors of the coming public charge rule have circulated, according to an analysis by the New York City Department of Social Services and the Mayor's Office of Immigrant Affairs.

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