Asylum seekers can get Medicaid
New green card regulation: USA does not want poor immigrants
There will soon be a new hurdle for immigrants on the road to US citizenship. The Trump administration has announced that the "public charge" rule will apply from October 15th. Its aim is to prevent immigrants from getting a green card, who could later be on the government's pocket. The green card is a permanent residence permit. Immigrants who want to live permanently in the USA and are planning to apply for American citizenship must first have a green card.
The current interim head of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), Ken Cuccinelli, summarized the change in the law in catchy words. Without further ado, he rewrote the message that can be read on a plaque on the Statue of Liberty. In the original poem, Lady Liberty welcomes migrants from all over the world with the words "Give me your tired, your poor, your enslaved masses who desire to breathe freely."
From the poem in the Statue of Liberty: "Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, ..."
Cuccinelli adapted these words in an interview with a radio station to the point of view of the US government: "Give me your tired ones and your poor who stand on their own two feet and who do not become a burden for the general public."
Low income as a reason for rejection
"Public Charge" rules have existed in the Immigration Act for a long time. But now the US government is specifying and tightening the regulations. Green card applicants are screened for a list of factors designed to indicate whether candidates will need government support at the time of the review or in the future. In addition to English language skills, factors also include age, state of health and educational level - and the applicant's current income.
Objects of desire: US green cards
Julia Gellat of the independent think tank Migration Policy Institute considers this point to be particularly problematic. Current income can predict future income to a certain extent. But: "Immigrants tend to show an increase in income after they have really arrived in the US," said the migration expert in an interview with DW. Therefore, the focus on current income, especially with immigrants, makes little sense when it comes to predicting whether a person will need support from the state in the future.
"Immigrants Boosted US Economy"
This regulation discriminates against poor immigrants who are hoping for a green card. The Migration Policy Institute says that it mainly affects people from Africa and Latin America, precisely the people who are a thorn in the side of US President Donald Trump. Immigrants from Europe, for example, were less subject to the new rule. And it is precisely on the grounds of equality that several US states have filed lawsuits against the government: California, Maine, Oregon, Pennsylvania and the federal district of Washington.
Abel Nunez, director of the Central American Resource Center (CARECEN), an aid organization for migrants from Central America, also criticizes the focus on income. "Immigrants as a group have boosted the US economy," Nunez told DW. "They take jobs at the bottom of society and work their way up from there, or allow their children to do that."
Many people who came to the United States as immigrants in the past would not have had a chance under the new rules, says Nunez. "You just have to look at the Irish immigrants. These people were starving, really poor people. But they have had a huge impact on this nation. Today there are no police stations and no fire stations in big cities that have not been shaped by Irish migration has been."
The fear is about
Another point that will be considered under the new rule when it comes to who gets a green card: Has the applicant ever received government support, for example in the form of food stamps or the Medicaid health program? Compared to the previous law, the new "Public Charge" regulation has a significantly longer list of supports, the use of which immigrants can be interpreted negatively in the application process.
Will anyone disqualify who might be dependent on food stamps?
The crux of the matter is that immigrants who do not yet have a green card are not entitled to most of this support anyway. And programs like free school lunches for children from poor families, to which immigrants are entitled, are not on the negative list. But immigration regulations, old and new, are so confusing that the fear of green card disqualification is spreading, says migration expert Gellat: "Many people say 'safe is safe' and opt out of all aid programs."
Nunez has already observed this in his work at CARECEN. "One impact is fear," he says. "One has to think about the background against which this new regulation is being introduced. It is another attack that the immigrant community is exposed to. President Trump berated them as rapists and robbers and called their countries of origin as shitholes. Then they were called Asylum laws [tightened]. All of this creates the feeling that we are not wanted here. "
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