Immigration to the US is becoming more difficult, especially for needy immigrants. The US government has tightened the regulations on permanent residence permits. In the future, the authorities may deny applicants a green card if they rely on government assistance programs such as Medicaid, ration cards or housing subsidies. Anyone who already owns a green card and uses public funds should no longer be able to obtain citizenship.
"In order to secure benefits for American citizens, immigrants must be financially independent," the White House said. "A large number of non-citizens and their families have taken advantage of our generous public assistance, and these limited resources could otherwise be spent on vulnerable Americans." The government relied on the existing legal framework that immigrants to US society should not be charged. "For years, this clear demand has been largely ignored," said the White House. This brings with it "an enormous burden for American taxpayers".
The incumbent director of immigration, Ken Cuccinelli, defended the new regulations, which should come into effect in mid-October. "We want people to come to the country who are self-employed," he told reporters in Washington. Trump's government reinforces the "ideal of independence and personal responsibility" through the new regulations. Immigrants should "be successful here in America" on their own.
During the press briefing, Cuccinelli was confronted with a quote from the poem by Emma Lazarus, mounted on a bronze plaque on the Statue of Liberty in New York: "Give me your tired, your poor, your enslaved masses who desire to breathe freely!" Cuccinelli said he did not intend to remove anything from the Statue of Liberty. The authorities would consider the "set of circumstances" when considering whether anyone is eligible for a green card, he added.
Lawyers count on countless complaints
According to observers, these measures are another attempt by the government of US President Donald Trump to limit social transfers and immigration, particularly from Mexico, Central America and Africa. In fact, migrants make up only a small proportion of those who seek public help in the United States. Due to their immigration status many of them are excluded from such benefits anyway.
Lawyers and immigration experts expect countless complaints. First, the National Immigration Law Center in Los Angeles announced it would go to trial against the regulations. Civil rights activists in turn fear that needy immigrants no longer dare to apply for state support or to seek help. They also criticized the regulations as giving officials too much freedom of choice over whether or not someone might need help in the future. David Skorten, president of the association of medical colleges, expects the scheme to reinforce existing health inequalities.