August 22, 2019
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Groups denounce Trump move to restrict legal immigration

Laura Barros

Washington, Aug 12 (efe-epa).- The plan President Donald Trump's administration presented Monday to limit access to citizenship and permanent residence for migrants who receive public assistance would undermine democracy and penalize parents for seeking help to feed their children, immigrant and Latino advocacy groups said.

Trump's policy draws on a long-discarded notion of excluding migrants who seem likely to become a "public charge" by virtue of dependence on government programs such as food stamps, housing vouchers and health-care subsidies.

Under the new rule, a legal immigrant would be classified as a public charge if he or she receives one or more from a list of public benefits for a total of 12 months over a three-year period.

"Basically, it is penalizing children, access to food for children of immigrant families with few resources," Isaias Guerrero, an activist with the Fair Immigration Reform Movement (FIRM), told Efe.

The initiative likewise represents an attack on the democratic system that "has created these programs to help families get ahead," he said.

Cecilia Muñoz, vice president for Public Interest Technology and Local Initiatives at New America, said the Trump administration was "using policy to eliminate the eligibility for many of those who typically obtain visas and are successful in the United States."

"And that is because we have an administration that really wants to reduce immigration and is using every possibility to do so," said Muñoz, who served eight years as a senior adviser to Trump's predecessor, Barack Obama.

Her analysis was shared by Carlos Gutierrez, who was commerce secretary under Republican President George W. Bush.

The rule announced Monday "sends the message that we don't want immigrants," the Cuban-born business executive and consultant said.

"It's an anti-immigrant policy, it's a policy against people who are different. I think they want blonds, I don't know," Gutierrez said. "But we see that this is an administration that doesn't like immigrants and that's going to be a problem. I don't know where it will stop."

Andrew Selee, president of the non-partisan Migration Policy Institute (MPI), said that policies toward immigrants will have an impact on the future of the US economy.

"This country has always benefited from the flow of people from all over the world. It's a central part of the innovation, of the economic dynamism of this country, of the labor force," he said during the presentation of a MPI report, "Rethinking U.S. Immigration Policy." EFE

lb/dr

Related content

US defends strategy to reject low-income legal immigrants

Washington, Aug 12 (efe-epa).- Donald Trump’s administration has announced a rule that would allow the United States to reject visas and permanent residency to people for being too poor.

The US government announced on Monday a regulation to reduce the number of legal immigrants who are allowed to enter and reside in the country, by facilitating the rejection of applications for green cards and residence permits.

A person holding a permanent resident card or some types of visas obtained through legal means would be affected if they cannot financially support themselves without public assistance.

It would also determine the granting of a legal visa by changing the criteria of the Department of Homeland Security when interpreting whether a foreigner "is likely to become a public charge at any time".

The interim director of Citizenship and Immigration Services Ken Cuccinelli has defended the new rule.

“Our rule generally prevents aliens who are likely to become a public charge from coming to the United States or remaining here and getting a green card,” he said at a press conference at the White House.

“Public charge is now defined in a way that ensures the law is meaningfully enforced and that those who are subject to it are self-sufficient.”

US authorities would be able to determine if an immigrant has become a public charge for the administration, that is a person who depends mainly on public funds to subsist, and then cancel their legal immigration status.

“Through the public charge rule, President Trump’s administration is reinforcing the ideals of self-sufficiency and personal responsibility,” Cuccinelli said.

“Ensuring that immigrants are able to support themselves and become successful here in America.”

He explained that, under this new rule, a legal immigrant will be defined as a public charge if they receive public benefits for more than 12 months in a 36-month period.

“Under the rule a public charge is now defined as an individual who receives one or more designated public benefits for more than 12 months in the aggregate within any 36 month period. For instance receipt of two different benefits in one month counts as two months,” he added.

Public benefits include food assistance, housing assistance vouchers and programs that subsidize the cost of medicines.

Cucinnelli said that the measure would not affect refugees, asylum seekers, victims of domestic violence and trafficked people living in the US.

According to the government, the regulation will take effect from 15 October.

It is expected that the new rule will face legal lawsuits in the coming days, so its final implementation could be delayed several months or even never occur.

Immigrant advocacy groups have argued that it would discriminate against immigrants from poorer countries, keep families apart and encourage legal residents to give up public assistance they might need to survive.

Organizations also said that the legislation would penalize immigrants with a work visa who need public assistance on a temporary basis.

In recent weeks, the Trump administration has also shown a strong hand against illegal immigration by ordering the arrest of 680 immigrants during a mass raid in six cities in the state of Mississippi.

Some political analysts have said that Trump’s latest actions on immigration are aimed at growing his voter base before the next presidential elections in November 2020. EFE-EPA

asl/rb

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