Trump administration proposal would make it easier to deport immigrants who use public benefits


WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Trump administration is considering reversing long-standing policy to make it easier to deport U.S. legal permanent residents who have used public benefits, part of an effort to restrict immigration by low-income people.

A Department of Justice draft regulation, seen by Reuters, dramatically expands the category of people who could be subject to deportation on the grounds that they use benefits. 

Currently, those legal permanent residents who are declared to be a “public charge,” or primarily dependent on the government for subsistence, can be deported – but in practice, this is very rare.

The draft regulation would use a more expansive definition to include some immigrants who have used an array of public benefits, including cash welfare, food stamps, housing aid, or Medicaid.

While the plan is at an early stage, might not become official government policy, and is likely to attract lawsuits, it is one part of efforts by the Trump administration to restrict legal immigration, in addition to its efforts to reduce illegal immigration to the United States.

The full possible impact is not known, but the change in policy could affect permanent residents – also known as “green card” holders – who are legally entitled to use public benefits soon after their arrival in the United States, such as refugees.

Department of Justice spokesman Alexei Woltornist said the agency “does not comment on or confirm draft regulations.”

U.S. law allows for the deportation of immigrants who have become “public charges” within five years of admission if their reason for seeking help preceded their entry to the United States – for example, if they had a chronic health condition that was not disclosed.

But due to a 1948 ruling, the deportation of immigrants for using public benefits has been strictly limited to cases in which the government has demanded payment for public services, and the person has failed to pay. Immigration lawyers said they have rarely if ever heard of someone being deported for using public benefits.

The draft rule indicates the government would override that precedent to allow for deportation of some permanent residents who have used certain public benefits within five years of admission.

For the plan to go into effect, it would be subject to public comment, after which it could be revised. Attorney General William Barr would then have to sign off on it.

The public benefits in question include Supplemental Security Income (SSI), given to disabled and older people; the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP), commonly known as food stamps; Section 8 housing vouchers; many Medicaid benefits; and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), a cash assistance program.

According to federal policy, many permanent residents do not qualify for public benefits unless they have had a green card for five years, making it unlikely they could be targeted for deportation on the basis of “public charge” even under the draft rule.

But dozens of states have looser rules – for instance, allowing pregnant women and children who are permanent residents to access Medicaid without a waiting period.

And the effort to tighten the rules could affect thousands of immigrant veterans, refugees and asylees, who are eligible to receive many benefits without time restrictions. Active members of the military would not be affected.

Administration officials had earlier indicated that the Justice Department, which oversees U.S. immigration courts, planned to issue a regulation on who can be deported for using public benefits, but its details were not previously known.


Immigrant advocates said the impact of the possible change is unclear, because it would be such a departure from long-standing practice.

“We’re in new territory here because this has never been tested,” said Charles Wheeler, an attorney with the Catholic Legal Immigration Network non-profit group. “I’m concerned that it’s going to be targeted at permanent resident aliens who otherwise thought they were free and clear to receive SSI and other public benefit programs.”

The change, if implemented, fits with broader Trump administration efforts to squelch legal immigration by transforming public-charge rules. The administration has also slashed refugee admissions and imposed a broad travel ban on citizens of several mostly Muslim countries.

The Justice Department’s draft proposal is based on a similar plan by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to significantly broaden the definition of what it means to be a public charge.

While DHS can decide whether to grant or deny immigration benefits, DOJ’s immigration judges can also decide whether a resident ought to be deported.

The DHS is expected soon to tighten regulations so that a “public charge” would be any foreigner “who receives one or more public benefits,” including an array of cash and non-cash benefits, such as food stamps, housing vouchers, and Medicaid.

The DOJ’s draft proposal mirrors that and also directs immigration judges to consider the use of public benefits as a heavily weighted negative factor when determining whether to admit a foreigner to the United States.

The State Department is also trying to restrict entry to the United States of people it suspects might use public benefits.

Last year, it gave U.S. consular officers more discretion to reject visas for people they believe may become public charges. The number of people refused immigrant visas on public-charge grounds was four times higher in 2018 than in 2017, and the highest total since 2004.

In addition to considering new standards for deporting legal residents, the DOJ is also looking at requiring foreigners seeking permanent residency status to submit a declaration to an immigration judge that demonstrates their self-sufficiency. The form asks for a detailed listing of assets, income, and debts, among other information.

9 thoughts on “Trump administration proposal would make it easier to deport immigrants who use public benefits

  1. Stop talking about it just do it , that would stop a lot running here for free stuff . Put pen to paper sign it

  2. “… part of an effort to restrict immigration by low-income people.”



    I just HAVE to ask… how many of those invaders AREN’T ‘low-come people’??? Anyone with any mammon is staying put in those countries. That’s as idiotic a statement as any other I’ve heard lately!

    “… it is one part of efforts by the Trump administration to restrict legal immigration, in addition to its efforts to reduce illegal immigration to the United States.”

    If what we’ve seen so far of those ‘efforts’ is any indication… we’re pretty much f%&ked in that department.

  3. “… it is one part of efforts by the Trump administration to restrict legal immigration, in addition to its efforts to reduce illegal immigration to the United States.””

  4. Koyote said:


    This is where that treasonous Supreme Court ruling from some years ago rears it’s ugly head. I am referring to the ruling that said hospitals and emergency rooms could not refuse service to illegal aliens. So, what has happened since that ruling – is these low skill, low paid mestizos who don’t earn enough money to pay for health insurance just haul themselves and their 8 or 10 taco crunching mestizo kids into the nearest hospital’s emergency room and demand to get medical treatment for free. Hospitals are not in the business of giving away their services for free, but since they are being forced to – they just pass these costs along to the customers who do have health insurance and who can afford to pay.

    Out in the California, Arizona, New Mexico area of the country, I’ve seen articles that reveal that these illegal alien parasites have become so numerous that somewhere between 30 to 50 major hospitals have had to shut down, and close for business – as a direct consequence of the cost of being forced to treat these parasitical freeloaders.

    Oh, and the businesses that hire these illegal aliens to perform menial manual labor and other unskilled jobs, are complicit – because instead of offering them a decent salary and maybe chipping in with a few health benefits – they just pay them a pittance and laugh at the fact that these leeches are being subsidized by the tax payers for things like medical care, public school educations, public housing, food stamps, and every other social entitlement gibs that they can sign up for.

    BTW: The Orange Cuck Master has a habit of announcing that ‘he is thinking’ about a new policy, and I’ve noticed that these announcements are always worded in such a way as to appeal to the base who voted for the guy in 2016. But, nothing ever seems to materialize after these announcements are circulated in the news. Its as though this guy is trying to shore up his base by using nothing but rhetoric.

    Don’t judge me by what I have not done that I promised I would do in 2016; judge me by the number of new empty promises that I tweet about and which sound really good, but which President Jared ‘White Genocide must be continued’ Kushner will quietly put the squash on before it ever gets implemented.

    1. Welcome to America, been going on since I’ve been alive.Many of us Americans cant afford the medical either. I can’t and I work my ass off. This country should be exiting the trash, giving the American National back what’s due us and get on with it. Bill of Rights spells it out. Simple really..

      Every president that I can remember has lied to us. Trump is just another long line of appointed ass clowns who manipulates the economy to make the billionaires happy, and their subjugated subordinates working. I guess you could call me one of them because I’m working.. LMAO why, I have no idea because I cant afford to buy anything. But I do it because I like to eat with a roof. 🙂

      No family to help me, on on my own, this truck is literally my house. If I become I’ll, I have to go to the emergency room and pray I get adequate help. I have twice now with two major operations, both saved my life. Both times inches from death.

      Ambulance rides to the emergency room both times, straight from the truck. I always had just enough saved to live off while recuperating, then pray I pass the DOT physical to resume my work. This last time with flying colors. Somebody up there likes me. I just keep on movin on brother.

      I’ll probably be found dead inside this thing one day.

      1. ‘No family to help me, on on my own, this truck is literally my house.’………..
        Mark you are family… have a home as long as I have one…any time you need a respite I am here

          1. I’m outside of there …have to use WF as addy due to Post Office…. I am in Clay county….country living …yay!

Join the Conversation

Your email address will not be published.