Published August 8, 2018


“Public Charge” provisions have been a part of our nation’s immigration laws for more than a century, thus the reason all family based immigration applicants are required to have a financial sponsor who provide an “Affidavit of Support” to guarantee the new immigrant will not become dependent on certain government benefits.   In sum, foreign nationals who are deemed likely to become a “public charge” are “inadmissible” under U.S. immigration law and ineligible for permanent residence (green card). 

The Trump Administration is now considering the implementation of new and expansive rules penalizing lawful immigrants who avail of certain government benefits, including making it harder for such benefit recipients to obtain U.S. citizenship.  The nature and extent of the type of public benefits that will be deemed to have toxic immigration consequences is still being decided upon by the administration.  Further, the rules under consideration will not add new prohibitions against foreign nationals in terms of qualifying for the benefits, only with regard to the type of immigration penalty they might face, such as a legal impediment to obtaining U.S. citizenship. 

Further discussion of the specifics of the proposal is somewhat premature since so many uncertain variables are at play and being debated about internally.   Supporters of this type of new policy see the American taxpayer as the main beneficiaries since it would lead to a huge decrease in the amount of government dollars being paid out for public benefits.  Additionally, this type of new initiative is seen as curtailing the level of welfare abuse and fraud the administration asserts is rampant among immigrants. 

Critics, on the other hand, claim this initiative is part of a pattern of anti-immigrant measures looking to demonize and otherwise place blame for societal ills on foreign nationals.  Furthermore, the timing of the plan roll out is seen as especially designed to influence voters in the upcoming mid-term elections, with large blocks of supporters of the President appreciating his hard line immigration policies and rhetoric.   Additionally, some see these types of measures as unfairly penalizing non-U.S. citizens who are living in the U.S. legally but who have unexpectedly and legitimately fallen on hard times and require government assistance, leaving the immigrant with the impossible choice of seeking needed help or facing immigration consequences.

Further developments with regard to the substance and implementation of this plan will continue to be covered in this column. 


PUBLISHED August 8, 2018– “IMMIGRATION LAW FORUM” Copyright © 2018, By Law Offices of Richard Hanus, Chicago, Illinois