President Donald Trump’s administration rolled out a new rule on Monday that would penalize legal immigrants if they use public benefits.
According to the rule, which was pushed by White House advisor Stephen Miller, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services agency will now weigh a legal immigrant’s potential use of public benefits when deciding whether or not to grant the immigrant a green card.
Not only is being a “public charge” a negative factor against green card applicants; under the new rule, even being deemed “likely” to become a public charge can count against immigrants.
That means that starting October 15, USCIS officials will begin taking into account a legal immigrant’s age, health, family status, assets, financial status, and education level when processing their green card application.
Though Trump has frequently railed against illegal immigration, the new policy indicates the administration’s shift to cut down on all forms of immigration, both illegal and legal.
USCIS acting director Ken Cuccinelli told reporters that the rule “better ensures that immigrants are able to successfully support themselves as they seek opportunity here in America.”
“We certainly expect people of any income to be able to stand on their own two feet,” Cuccinelli responded when a reporter asked if the policy unfairly targeted lower income immigrants. “If people are not able to be self-sufficient, then this negative factor is going to bear very heavily against them in a decision about whether they’ll be able to become a legal permanent resident.”
Despite Trump’s racist rhetoric against Latinos and his mass immigration raids that’ve largely targeted the Latino community, Cuccinelli claimed there’s “no reason for any particular group to feel like this is targeting them.”
The attorneys general from New York and California have already vowed to fight the new policy.
New York Attorney General Letitia James promised to sue the Trump administration over the “egregious” rule.
“President Trump’s new public charge rule is yet one more example of his Administration turning its back on people fighting to make a better life for them and their families,” James said in a statement.
Xavier Becerra, California’s attorney general, slammed the administration’s “latest attack on families and lower income communities of color” in a statement.
“We will not stand idly by while this Administration targets programs that children and families across our state rely upon,” Bererra said. “We are ready to take legal action to protect the rights of all Californians.”