Donald Trump’s Public Charge policy, the latest white nationalist move to turn the U.S. into a gated country welcoming only wealthy and white immigrants in the ‘Make America white Again’ agenda, will soon be a reality as announced by his own acting director of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, immigration hardliner Ken Cuccinelli.
So barefaced is the administration in ensuring its MAWA agenda changes the face of America again that Cuccinelli had the audacity to tell NPR that the storied lines on the Statue of Liberty from Jewish poet Emma Lazarus’ 14-line sonnet, “The New Colossus,” urging the world to “give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,” was only an invitation to those immigrants “who can stand on their own feet and who will not become a public charge.”
But unless the courts can again stop Trump or until immigrant voters can join in sending this administration packing come 2020, the rule will soon be another draconian reality for immigrants seeking to adjust their status to legal residents or migrate as legal residents to the U.S.
Here’s a breakdown of some of the facets of this rule every immigrant, especially those seeking to adjust their status to legal residents, should know about the rule:
1: “Public Charge” is the term used by this administration’s immigration officials to refer to an immigrant who is considered primarily dependent on the government for subsistence and applies to an immigrant who received one or more designated public benefits for more than 12 months or within any 36-month period.
2: It defines the term “public benefit” to include any cash benefits received by the immigrant for income maintenance, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF), Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP), most forms of Medicaid, and certain housing programs.
3: The rule has largely been on the books since the 1880s and was added around the same time as the Chinese Exclusion Act.
4: For the last decade, it has actually been implemented in a very narrow way. For one, a U.S. citizen, born or naturalized, sponsoring a family member such as a spouse, a child, a parent or a sibling, under the I-130, Petition for Alien Relative must also file form I-864, or the Affidavit of Support document with USCIS. This form is a sworn affidavit by the U.S. citizen where they must show they have adequate means to financially support the relative and are not likely to leave them relying on the U.S. government for financial support. All sponsors must submit a copy of their individual Federal income tax return, including W-2s for the most recent tax year and a copy of each and every Form 1099, Schedule, and any other evidence of reported income.
5: The major change by the Trump administration that has many so scared and fearful is because the new rule makes many immigrants who will be seeking to become permanent residents in the United States ineligible for change of status and extension of stay.
6: It also calls for an immigrant deemed by USCIS as “inadmissible on the public charge ground,” to post a public charge bond. The minimum bond amount has been set right now at $8,100 but USCIS says the actual bond amount will be dependent on the individual’s circumstances.
7: This would now make it more difficult for immigrants who came to the country legally to stay as permanent residents if they’ve used or are seen as likely to use public benefits like food stamps and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, Supplemental Security Income, Section 8 housing vouchers, Institutionalization or Medicaid, Medicare, Medicare Part D Low Income Subsidy.
8: Other exclusions listed include School Breakfast/Lunch Programs, Head Start, Healthy Start, Pell grants, Children’s Health Insurance Program, Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance and Social Security Disability Insurance.
9: The rule excludes individuals who are serving in active duty or in the Ready Reserve component of the U.S. armed forces, and their spouses and children as well as certain international adoptees and children acquiring U.S. citizenship; Medicaid for aliens under 21 and pregnant women; Medicaid for school-based services including services provided under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act; and Medicaid benefits for emergency medical services. It also does not apply to refugees, asylees, Special Immigrant Juveniles (SIJs), certain trafficking victims (T nonimmigrants), victims of qualifying criminal activity (U nonimmigrants), or victims of domestic violence (VAWA self-petitioners).
10: It is set to become a reality on Oct. 15, 2019. USCIS says it will apply the public charge inadmissibility final rule only to applications and petitions postmarked or submitted electronically on or after the effective date. However, so far, 13 U.S. states have filed lawsuits against the administration to block the rule from becoming law so that’s the only silver lining to date.
The writer is publisher at NewsAmericasNow