In its newest move toward immigration reform, the Department of Justice (DOJ) has just announced that it has drafted regulation that dramatically expands the classification of people who could face deportation based on the fact that they receive government benefits. The government considers immigrants who are dependent on the U.S. government to subsist as “public charges.” As it is now, legal permanent residents who are considered public charges can be deported, but that regulation was rarely enforced. Now the DOJ and the current administration in Washington wants to reverse this long-standing policy and begin deporting people based on benefit reliance.
The new regulations expand the definition of public charges to include those immigrants who have in the past or are now using public benefits. This includes Supplemental Security Income (SSI), SNAP food stamp assistance, Section 8 housing, Medicaid and TANF, commonly referred to as “welfare.”
The plan is still in its early stages, and it may never become an official policy of the U.S. government, but it is being tabled by the DOJ in its efforts to restrict the flow of illegal immigrants in the U.S.
The change, if it goes through, may affect holders of green cards, who are permanent residents or refugees and are in the country legally and thus legally entitled to public benefits. Under the current policy, U.S. law permits immigrant deportation of anyone who has been admitted into the U.S. in the previous five years and becomes a public charge. For instance, if they have a chronic health problem that was not disclosed initially, and they go on to receive Medicaid benefits as a result.
Under a 1948 ruling, deportation of immigrants due to using public benefits was limited only to those instances in which the government demanded repayment for public service and the benefit recipient failed to make repayment. According to the new DOJ draft, the government would seek to override that precedent and allow deportation of some permanent residents who use public assistance within five years of being admitted to the U.S. Resident aliens serving in the military would not be affected.
The new rule would be moot in some states, since federal law requires that permanent residents have a green card five years before qualifying for public assistance. However, some states have looser rules, such as those that allow Medicaid assistance for pregnant women and children with no waiting period required.
Facing Deportation Issues?
The current climate for immigrants is scary, we know. Our goal at Familia America Immigration is to help as many immigrants as possible find a legal route to citizenship. If you are facing deportation, please contact our Salt Lake City green card attorneys right away. We are advocates for the voiceless and the hopeless, and we will put our concerted efforts into your case so that you can get the best possible outcome. Give us a call at 801-656-9605 or click here to reach out to us now.