The Trump administration’s Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is implementing a new rule that takes effect on October 15 to punish immigrants and their US-citizen children for accessing a wide range of public benefits, including common tax deductions. When considering whether to provide applicants with immigration visas or legal permanent residency, DHS already penalizes immigrants who receive cash welfare payments. However, DHS is expanding this rule to penalize immigrants who use any form of public benefit, from health insurance subsidies to the earned income tax credit used by about one-fifth of taxpayers. The rule, which was crafted by the notoriously xenophobic Stephen Miller, also punishes immigrants whose US-citizen spouses or children use a public benefit. Under this new rule, immigrants will be disqualified from receiving a green card if they claim nearly any benefits or if DHS deems them likely to receive benefits in the future.
As is typical with the Trump administration, the reasoning for this rule is divorced from the facts. Rather than being a burden on the economy, immigrants pay billions in taxes, create new jobs and businesses, and use public benefits at the same rate as US-born people. Punishing immigrants for accessing basic government services will harm our communities and the economy and must not be tolerated.