Trump Administration to Limit Citizenship for Legal Immigrants
WASHINGTON — August 8, 2018
The Trump administration wants to make it harder for legal immigrants to become citizens or get green cards, as well as access to a range of popular public welfare programs, including Obamacare.
White House senior adviser Stephen Miller suggested the idea of an informal preparatory process aimed to limit the number of migrants who obtain legal status in the U.S. each year. After the decision, it will be difficult for immigrants to use Obamacare, to process children's health insurance, food stamps, and other benefits.
Details of the rule-making proposal are still being finalized.
Immigration lawyers, advocates and public health researchers say it would be the biggest change to the legal immigration system in decades. They estimated the number of immigrants effected could be more than 20 million if President Trump decides to take this step. It could also affected those immigrants working jobs that don't pay enough to support their families.
"The administration is committed to enforcing existing immigration law, which is clearly intended to protect the American taxpayer by ensuring that foreign nationals seeking to enter or remain in the U.S are self-sufficient. Any proposed changes would ensure that the government takes the responsibility of being good stewards of taxpayer funds seriously and adjudicates immigration benefit requests in accordance with the law," a spokeswoman for the Department of Homeland Security said.
There are many green card holders like Luis Charles, a Haitian green-card holder seeking citizenship who, despite working up to 80 hours a week as a nursing assistant, have to use community programs to support their disabled children. It is people like Charles who are now most at risk.
This could also mean that immigrant households earning as much as 250 percent of the poverty level won't be obtaining legal status, nor public benefits like Social Security Insurance.
A version of the plan has been sent to the White House Office of Management and Budget, sources said, the final step before publishing a rule in the federal register. Reuters first reported that the White House was considering such a plan in February.
In 2016, the last full fiscal year under the Obama administration, 1.2 million immigrants became lawful permanent residents, or green-card holders, and 753,060 became naturalized U.S. citizens, according to data from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
Data from the first quarter of the fiscal year in 2018 indicates that the administration is on track for a decline in immigrants granted green cards by 20 percent. Data for the first two quarters of the fiscal year in 2018 for immigrants obtaining naturalized citizenship shows little change compared to the same period of 2016.
In a statement, agency spokesperson Michael Bars said, "USCIS evaluates all applications fairly, efficiently and effectively on a case-by-case basis."
“Contrary to open borders advocates, immigration attorneys, and activists," said Bars, "USCIS has not changed the manner in which applications for naturalization have been adjudicated, as the law generally requires that an eligible applicant must have been properly admitted for permanent residence in order to become a U.S. citizen. ... We reject the false and inaccurate claims of those who would rather the U.S. turn a blind eye to cases of illegal immigration, fraud, human trafficking, gang activity and drug proliferation at the expense of public safety, the integrity of our laws and their faithful execution."