The Trump Administration on Monday continued its crackdown on immigration with a new rule that could block immigrants from getting green cards if they’ve used government benefits or are found likely to use them.

The 837-page regulation -- known as a “public charge” rule -- likely will fall hardest on low-income legal immigrants who perform much of the country’s menial labor on farms and in the service industry.

The rule replaces current policy that says immigrant shouldn’t receive more than half their income from cash benefits, such as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families or Supplemental Security Income from Social Security.

Under the new more expansive definition, immigrants aren’t supposed to use public benefits like Medicaid, public housing assistance, or food stamps for more than 12 months over a 36 month period. If they do, they risk being categorized as too reliant on government services.

“We certainly expect someone of any income to be able to stand on their own two feet,” U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Acting Director Ken Cuccinelli told reporters Monday at the White House.

Mexico-U.S. Deal
President Donald Trump has focused on cracking down on migrants -- one of his signature issues -- for months as his 2020 re-election campaign intensifies. The regulation, which takes effect in 60 days, has been a priority of Trump’s hard-line aide Stephen Miller.

Last week, the administration said more than 30,000 migrants had been sent to Mexico to await immigration court proceedings as part of a program expanded under a June 7 deal between Mexico and the U.S.

Cuccinelli said the rule offers clarity to government agents who evaluate immigrants’ applications, and makes it easier for those seeking permanent residency in the U.S. to understand the consequences of using public benefits.

But opponents argue the new rule will both make it harder for lower-income immigrants to remain in the country and potentially scare people from using benefits to which they’re legally entitled. They said that because the government evaluates both whether someone has used public benefits in the past and whether they’re likely to in the future, even those who don’t rely on assistance could be denied. Legal challenges to the new rule are expected.

“The rule will sow fear in immigrant communities and lead many immigrants who are here legally -- and their families -- to forgo needed health coverage, nutrition assistance and housing assistance they are eligible for,“ said Bob Greenstein, president of of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

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