The Trump administration rolled out a new rule to reject green cards for immigrants on food stamps and other public aid

donald trumpPresident Donald Trump talks to reporters on the South Lawn of the White House, Friday, Aug. 9, 2019, in Washington, as he prepares to leave Washington for his annual August holiday at his New Jersey golf club.Associated Press/Evan Vucci

  • The Trump administration rolled out a new "public charge" rule on Monday expanding the government's ability to reject green cards for immigrants using or deemed likely to use public assistance.
  • It's a long-awaited policy shift likely to slow the amount of legal immigration to the United States.
  • Set to take effect in mid-October, the new rule allows the government to consider more factors before granting permanent residency or a temporary visa to an immigrant.
  • Among the factors are the use of government benefits, along with education and household income.
  • But the law has drawn extensive criticism from immigration advocates, who argue it will scare immigrants away from using public aid they've been legally entitled to until now.
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The Trump administration rolled out a new "public charge" rule on Monday expanding the government's ability to reject green cards for immigrants using or deemed likely to use food stamps, housing vouchers, Medicaid, and other forms of public assistance.

It's a long-awaited policy shift likely to slow the amount of legal immigration to the United States.

Set to take effect in mid-October, the new rule allows the government to consider more factors before granting permanent residency or a temporary visa to an immigrant, such as their use of government benefits, along with their education, and household income.

Current federal law only considers whether an immigrant draws over half their income from cash benefits in programs like Temporary Assistance for Needy Families.

Read more: Trump administration may target immigrants who use food aid and other benefits

US Citizenship and Immigration Services Acting Director Ken Cuccinelli said at a White House press conference the rule is "reinforcing the ideals of self-sufficiency and personal responsibility, ensuring that immigrants are able to support themselves and become successful here in America."

But the law has drawn extensive criticism from immigration advocates, who argue it will scare immigrants away from using public aid they've been legally entitled to until now. There's also concern that the rules could negatively impact the lives of children who are US citizens, the Tampa Bay Times reported.

The National Immigration Law Center announced their intent to legally challenge the new rule. 

"It will have a dire humanitarian impact, forcing some families to forego critical life-saving health care and nutrition," NILC executive director Marielena Hincapieé said in a press release. "The damage will be felt for decades to come."

Even though the rule had been proposed in October, the debate around it may already be having a chilling effect on immigrant communities. A study released by the Urban Institute in May found that one in seven - or 13.7% - of adults in immigrant families did not seek aid from a noncash benefit program for fear of imperiling their chances at receiving a green card.

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