United States President Donald Trump’s administration on Monday announced new immigration rules, according to which applications for temporary or permanent visas will be rejected if applicants fail to meet high enough income standards or if they receive public assistance such as welfare, food stamps, public housing or Medicaid, AFP reported.
The new rules on permanent residency will come into effect on October 15, according to Reuters.
“To protect benefits for American citizens, immigrants must be financially self-sufficient,” the White House said in a statement. “Large numbers of non-citizens and their families have taken advantage of our generous public benefits, limited resources that could otherwise go to vulnerable Americans.”
It said migrants who are already in United States and are using public services will not be able to obtain green cards or citizenship. A green card allows a person to live and work permanently in the country.
The new rules may reportedly impact some 22 million non-citizen legal residents of the country, and the estimated 10.5 million unauthorised immigrants, most of them are long-term residents.
The White House added that half of all the non-citizen households include at least one person using Medicaid, the government-run health program, and 78% of households headed by a non-citizen with no more than a high school education use at least one welfare programme.
“Through the public charge rule, President Trump’s administration is reinforcing the ideals of self-sufficiency and personal responsibility, ensuring that immigrants are able to support themselves and become successful here in America,” Ken Cuccinelli, acting Director of US Citizenship and Immigration Services, told AFP.
The National Immigration Law Center said it would file a lawsuit to stop the government’s orders from taking effect. The group’s executive director alleged the rule was racially motivated.
The rules are part of Trump’s efforts to curb both legal and illegal immigration, and is derived from the Immigration Act of 1882 that allows the US government to deny a visa to anyone likely to become a “public charge”.