The Trump administration is trying to set a trap for legal immigrants who thought they did everything right.
Trump is getting ready to issue a new rule that would allow his administration to more easily deport immigrants who come here legally — just the latest sign that Trump wants to attack all immigrants, whether or not they have proper documentation.
Under a new proposed Department of Justice (DOJ) rule, immigrants who receive public benefits — like Medicaid, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), food stamps, housing vouchers, or cash assistance — could all face the threat of deportation for doing so.
The new rule would widen the existing "public charge" rule, where immigration officers assess whether an immigrant would be entirely dependent on public programs in the future. Currently, people can be deported for being public charges if they had an issue — such as a health condition — that pre-dated their emigration here. In practice, this is almost never used. Now, though, Trump's team is looking to increase who gets deported and how.
Right now, several types of legal immigrants, including asylum-seekers, refugees, and veterans, are able to use federal benefits right away. Immigration advocates are concerned that, under the proposed rule, the Trump administration would target people "who otherwise thought they were free and clear to receive SSI and other public benefit programs."
In other words, the administration could be setting a trap for legal immigrants. People may enter the country believing that their status entitles them to use things like Medicaid and then, once they do so, they can be deported.
While this proposed rule deals with legal immigrants rather than undocumented people, it's all in keeping with Trump's overall strategy of making it harder and harder for immigrants to enter the country. If immigrants see coming to the United States as entering a thicket of unknowable rules where they could get deported at any time, it may deter people from coming.
Trump has been frustrated about the fact that his inhumane policies don't seem to stop people from seeking asylum in the United States, in large part because they're fleeing such violence and chaos in their home countries that running the gauntlet of the American immigration system seems better.
This latest proposed rule shows he's planning on being inhumane to those who've already legally arrived — and followed all the rules — as well.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.