Immigration to the United States is a “privilege” and not a “right.” Personally, I don’t believe in the “Open Borders” concept. I think a country has a right to protect its borders and limit the number of immigrants wanting to enter that country. That said, according to a report in The Manila Times, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has proposed a major rule change for many immigrants.
Homeland Security Amendment Announced
DHS Secretary Kirstjen M. Nielsen announced last Saturday, Sept. 22, 2018, that US immigrants who get public benefits like food stamps or housing vouchers could be denied “green cards.”
“Green card” is slang for the plastic photo ID card that someone receives upon becoming a U.S. lawful permanent resident. After receiving a “green card,” U.S. citizenship may be applied for.
The “Free Lunch” is over
Under the proposed rule change, being a current or previous recipient of certain public aid would be seen as a “heavily weighed negative factor” in considering an application for lawful permanent residency.
“This proposed rule will implement a law passed by Congress intended to promote immigrant self-sufficiency and protect finite resources by ensuring that they are not likely to become burdens on American taxpayers,” Homeland Security Secretary Nielsen said.
Possibly, no more green cards for those immigrants on the public dole. Getting rid of “Public Charges” is the goal. The Philippines is doing the same thing. Recent immigration policies have seen customs officials scrutinizing incoming foreigners to see if they have the financial means to live in the Philippines.
Immigrants applying for green cards are already required to prove they will not become a so-called “public charge,” with receipt of cash benefits considered.
However, the latest rules set out a wide range of non-cash public benefits that could be disqualifying, such as:
- Food stamps
- Housing vouchers
- The Medicare Part D Low Income Subsidy which helps with prescription costs
DHS estimated the rule would affect just over 382,200 immigrants applying to adjust their status to lawful permanent residents each year.
The proposal will be subject to a 60-day comment period before coming into effect.
The rule would primarily affect legal immigrants or people seeking to come to the US legally, as illegal aliens are already ineligible for most means-tested public benefits.
PH to help OFWs hit by proposed green card restrictions
The Philippine Dept. of Foreign Affairs, DFA, has already reacted to the proposed changes according to a report at Rappler.com.
“We’d like to work with the US. We have a special relationship,” says Philippine Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano
The Philippines will help overseas Filipino workers who will affected by proposed restrictions on issuing US green cards, said Philippine Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano on Monday, September 24.
“On specific cases, our instruction to our post is that we can assist Filipinos,” said Cayetano in a media briefing on Monday.
He said undocumented (illegal alien) Filipinos will be the hardest hit by the green card restrictions. He noted, however, that visas and immigration privileges remain under the authority of the host country.
Affidavit of Support
The US Citizen or Permanent Resident who is sponsoring their relative to come to the United States (the “Sponsor) must submit an Affidavit of Support (Form I-864) on their relative’s behalf.
According to the USCIS website, an affidavit of support is a document an individual signs to accept financial responsibility for another person, usually a relative, who is coming to the United States to live permanently. (USCIS is the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services department of the United States government.)
The person who signs the affidavit of support becomes the sponsor of the relative (or other individual) coming to live in the United States. The sponsor is usually the petitioner of an immigrant petition for a family member.
An affidavit of support is legally enforceable. The sponsor’s responsibility usually lasts until the family member or other individual either becomes a U.S. citizen. Or until they can be credited with 40 quarters of work (usually 10 years).
Clinton Changed the Rules
U.S. law has long envisioned immigrants being self-supportive, dating back to provisions in the late 1800s. USA News reports that in recent years they’ve rarely been enforced.
The Clinton administration wrote rules limiting the types of programs that are considered when deciding whether an immigrant is a public charge.
The Washington Times reported in 2016 that only three people were cited for being public charges in the years from 2013 to 2015. And just one of those cases was actually sustained by immigration judges.
Immigrants could be asked in limited cases to post cash bonds of at least $10,000 to avoid being denied green cards under the new regulation.
The new rules do not need congressional approval. Nevertheless, they must still go through the previously mentioned 60-day comment period before going into effect.