Trump administration moves to restrict immigrants who use public benefits

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Donald Trump’s administration on Saturday said it would propose making it harder for foreigners to come to the United States or remain there if they have received or are likely to receive public benefits such as food aid, public housing or Medicaid.

The proposed regulation from the Department of Homeland Security would expand immigration officers’ ability to deny visas or legal permanent residency to aspiring immigrants if they have received a range of taxpayer-funded benefits to which they are legally entitled, such as Medicaid, the Medicare Part D low-income subsidy, Section 8 housing vouchers and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, which is commonly known as food stamps.

US immigration law has long required officials to exclude a person likely to become a “public charge” from permanent residence.

But US guidelines in place for nearly two decades narrowly define “public charge” to be a person “primarily dependent on the government for subsistence,” either through direct cash assistance or government-funded long-term care.

The Trump administration’s proposal is a sharp departure from current guidelines, which have been in place since 1999 and specifically bar authorities from considering such non-cash benefits in deciding a person’s eligibility to immigrate to the United States or stay in the country.

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