The Trump administration issued a final rule Monday that allows federal officials to deny green cards to legal immigrants who have received certain public benefits or who are deemed likely to do so in the future.
The “public charge” regulation — pushed by White House senior adviser Stephen Miller and other hard-line officials — is the latest part of President Donald Trump’s vast immigration crackdown. While Trump has railed against migrants arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border, the new regulation represents his most ambitious effort yet to restrict legal immigration as he gears up for his 2020 reelection campaign.
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Conservative groups such as the Heritage Foundation have touted the measure as a way to limit immigration to self-sufficient foreigners who won’t be a drain on public resources. The Republican Study Committee — a group that includes roughly three-quarters of House GOP lawmakers — praised the regulation as “a step in the right direction” in a budget proposal released in May.
Still, the contentious policy almost certainly will trigger legal challenges. A coalition of public health associations, educators and pro-migrant activists have argued it will force parents to forgo essential services for their children. Both House and Senate Democrats criticized the measure after a draft version published in October.
The benefits covered under the regulation include food stamps, welfare, Medicaid, and housing assistance. Even before the administration issued a proposed rule last year, agencies across the country reported decreased enrollment in a federal nutrition program aimed at pregnant women and children.