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The Trump administration has been denying immigrant visas to people likely to become 'public charge' — dependent on welfare

Conservative Review

The number of immigrants denied visas because they've been deemed likely to put further strain on the welfare system has "skyrocketed" under the Trump administration, according to a Politico report.

From October 1 to July 29, the Trump administration denied 5,343 visas applications from Mexican nationals on the grounds that they may become a “public charge” to taxpayer resources by becoming dependent on government benefits, the story details. During its last full year in power, fiscal year 2016, the Obama administration issued only seven such denials to Mexican nationals.

But while Mexico has gotten the largest number of "public charge" denials, it's not the only country whose applicants have started getting more of them.

Section 212(a)(4) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) clearly states that an individual seeking admission to the United States or trying to obtain a green card is inadmissible if the individual “at the time of application for admission or adjustment of status, is likely at any time to become a public charge.” Before that, Conservative Review's Daniel Horowitz lays out, America had a long history of prudentially restricting immigration based on the potential that a newcomer may create an additional taxpayer cost burden.

In total, for applicants from all countries, the data reported by Politico shows 12,179 visa application "public charge" rejections during the same period, October 1 to July 29. The FY 2016 number of denials on those grounds was a mere 1,003.

And those numbers also stand to increase going forward with the anticipated release of a revised "public charge" regulation. An updated regulation put out in October 2018 would expand DHS' working definition of "public charge" to the one described in INA section 212 and increase the types of welfare benefits that count toward a "public charge" decision.

Analysis from the Kaiser Family Foundation of the initial rule proposed in September said that it would add "Medicaid, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, the Medicare Part D Low-Income Subsidy Program, and several housing programs" to considerations and "would likely lead to broad decreases in participation in Medicaid and other programs among legal immigrant families." "Public charge" is also considered when legal immigrants apply for green cards.

The Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs finished its review of the rule last week, meaning that the administration could roll it out any day now.

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