After dropping hints for more than a year, the Trump Administration now appears to be serious about discouraging immigrant welfare use. Longstanding law forbids entry (or adjustment to green-card status) of any immigrant who “is likely to at any time become a public charge.” Unfortunately, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has regulated that law into irrelevance, as “public charge” has become so narrowly-defined that it applies to virtually no one. Under existing regulations, immigrants can receive (or be likely to receive) Medicaid, CHIP, subsidized housing, child care, energy assistance, food stamps, and more, all without risking rejection on public-charge grounds. The administration’s proposed change would allow USCIS to consider these non-cash benefits in making a public-charge determination.
The new rule is common sense. I talked about it on Joyce Kaufman's radio show last week.