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New Trump administration plan limits immigrants who are on — or likely to be on — public assistance

Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen is shown speaking at a meeting of the Federal Commission on School Safety in the Indian Treaty Room in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building August 16, 2018 in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Immigrants who use or are likely to use public assistance programs will have a tougher time getting into the country under a new proposal by the Trump administration. The plan, announced Saturday by the Department of Homeland Security, is designed to scale back dependence on programs such as housing vouchers and food subsidies.

What does this change?

U.S. immigration laws already have provisions to limit the influx of people likely to be dependent on financial assistance programs.

But the DHS plan would broaden the government’s ability to deny visas and residency if immigrants or members of their family receive Medicaid Part D, Section 8 housing vouchers, or benefits under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. Tax credits and other health benefits listed in previous drafts were not included in the current plan.

“Under long-standing federal law, those seeking to immigrate to the United States must show they can support themselves financially,” said DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen in a statement.

The proposed changes would “promote immigrant self-sufficiency and protect finite resources by ensuring that they are not likely to become burdens on American taxpayers," she added.

Within the next few weeks, the plan will be published in the Federal Resister. That will trigger a 60-day comment period.

“After DHS carefully considers public comments received on the proposed rule, DHS plans to issue a final public charge rule that will include an effective date,” according to the statement.

The government is anticipating legal action over any changes, the Washington Post reported. Immigrant advocates fear the changes would force families to avoid receiving assistants to avoid losing their immigration status.

Immigration supporters will likely view the plan as another way the Trump administration is attempting to thwart legal immigration.

But according to census data, the foreign-born percentage of the U.S. population is “at its highest level in more than a century,” the Washington Post reported.

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