WASHINGTON—Immigrants legally in the U.S. will be ineligible for green cards if they use any of an array of social programs, and prospective immigrants will be barred from entry if they can’t convince a consular officer that they will never use such programs, as part of a final rule published by the Trump administration.
The rule, issued by the Department of Homeland Security, is one of the most ambitious and sweeping elements of the Trump administration’s immigration policy, according to administration officials as well as immigrant-rights advocates opposed to the change.
The administration was all but guaranteeing fresh criticism from immigration groups for opting to push ahead in the wake of shootings in El Paso, Texas, that were apparently motivated by anti-immigrant animus. Similar sentiments were expressed after Immigration and Customs Enforcement carried out raids on food processing plants in Mississippi last week.
The rule change tightens the definition of who is likely to become a “public charge” under immigration law, a designation that prevents an immigrant from obtaining legal permanent residence, and which is also used by the Justice and State departments to determine which noncitizens can be removed from the country or prevented from ever entering.
Use or potential use of a benefits program such as Medicaid, housing assistance or food stamps could now disqualify an applicant, including around 900,000 immigrants currently in the U.S.
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