How a wealth test for immigrants could affect the U.S. economy

Interesting long and serious analysis:

Both supporters and opponents of a new Trump administration rule that creates additional barriers for immigrants trying to enter the U.S. or trying to gain legal permanent residency are using economic arguments to make their cases.

The so-called “public charge” rule bars immigrants from coming to the U.S., claiming that if they are deemed to be unable to support themselves financially, they are at risk of needing federal safety net benefits–or becoming a “public charge” of the federal government. It also penalizes immigrants living in the U.S. who are trying to become lawful permanent residents, if they use federal safety net programs.

The rule is being challenged in court, but the U.S. Supreme Court this week allowed the change to go into effect and become enforceable while it makes its way through the judicial system.

Under the new guidance, immigrants who use a public benefit for more than 12 months in a 36-month period would be penalized in their application to become a legal permanent resident– commonly known as a green card holder. Each individual benefit counts toward the total time, so using both food and housing assistance for one month, for example, could count as two months worth of benefits.

If the household income of an immigrant trying to come to the U.S. is less than 125 percent of the Federal Poverty Guidelines, or $21,550 for a couple, they could also be at risk of being denied entry. The Department of Homeland Security said it would use that threshold as one of several factors when deciding whether to admit an immigrant to the U.S. Immigrants with twice that income, or 250 percent of the Federal Poverty Guidelines, would be given higher preference.

Refugees are exempt from the rule.

The White House has argued the rule, which some are calling a “wealth test,” will benefit American workers and save taxpayer dollars. Immigration advocates counter that it is creating an unnecessary barrier for hardworking immigrants trying to better their lives and who contribute to the U.S. economy.

Meanwhile, economists caution that it’s difficult to estimate the exact cost or savings from the rule because it depends on how strictly it is enforced and there could be numerous ripple effects that will reverberate throughout the economy for years. It is also unclear what the cost would be for enforcing the rule, or for checking on immigrants’ household income before coming to the U.S.

Who uses federal assistance

On the whole, immigrants make up a small share of all Americans who use federal public assistance programs. U.S-born individuals, for example, make up 86 percent of both Medicaid and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, recipients.

Immigrants also use less total welfare and entitlement benefits in dollar value than native-born Americans, according to a report from the CATO Institute, a libertarian think-tank.

In total, native-born Americans used $6,976 worth of welfare programs per person in 2016. That’s compared to $5,535 per immigrants–a 21 percent difference.

The discrepancy is largely due to a higher rate of native-born Americans using Medicare and Social Security benefits than immigrants. About 18 percent and 19 percent of native-born Americans use Medicare and Social Security benefits, respectively. That’s compared to 12 percent and 14 percent of immigrants.

Native-born Americans are also more likely to use the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families; Women, Infants, and Children (WIC); and SNAP, which is commonly known as food stamps.

Graphic by Megan McGrew/PBS NewsHour

Immigrants are more likely to use Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Medicaid than native-born Americans. About 4 percent of immigrants use SSI, compared to 3.5 percent of native-born citizens. Around 24.5 percent of immigrants use Medicaid, compared to 23 percent of native-born Americans, according to the CATO report.

Undocumented immigrants, which by some estimates make up half of all non U.S. citizens living in the country, are generally ineligible to receive federal benefits.

In response to public comments about the public charge rule, the Department of Homeland Security did not dispute the CATO findings but said they “are not inconsistent” with its final rule.

In a news conference last year, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Director Ken Cuccinnelli said the issue is not how immigrants’ benefits compare to native-born citizens, but whether the immigrants coming to the U.S. are self-sufficient.

“The benefit to taxpayers is a long-term benefit of seeking to ensure that our immigration system is bringing people to join us as American citizens, as legal permanent residents first, who can stand on their own two feet, who will not be reliant on the welfare system — especially in the age of the modern welfare state, which is so expansive and expensive,” Cuccinnelli said.

What immigrants cost and contribute to the U.S. economy

Estimates on how many people will be affected by the public charge rule varies widely.

Around 1.2 million people seeking to become green card holders each year would be subject to the rule, but many of those are not eligible for, or already choose not to use public benefits. However, there are likely millions more immigrants trying to come to the U.S. who could also be affected.

The Department of Homeland Security estimates 382,264 immigrants per year will be affected by the changes. The New American Economy, a nonprofit that focuses on immigration research, puts the estimate much higher–at 3.9 million.

If all of those immigrants were barred from living in the U.S., the nation’s economy would lose about $82 billion per year, the New American Economy analysis finds. That number includes $48 billion the affected immigrants would earn in income each year, plus an estimated $34 billion that would otherwise be generated because of the money they spend in the U.S economy and the amount they would pay in taxes.

The Department of Homeland Security has estimated a much lower cost–$144.4 million. It also estimates that federal and state governments will pay out $2.47 billion less each year in benefits–a key Trump administration argument for implementing the changes.

The public charge rule aside, first-generation immigrants generally cost the government more than U.S.-born Americans, according to a 2017 report from the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine. On average they cost about $1,600 per person annually.

But the children of those immigrants have a net positive effect on the U.S. economy, contributing about $1,700 per person per year. Third generation immigrants contribute about $1,300 annually.

The financial burden of immigration tends to fall more heavily on state and local governments because of the cost of their children’s public school. At the same time, investing in children’s education, health care and food security is likely to make them more productive workers with higher incomes later in life, which, in turn, generates more tax revenue.

“Adequate resources in childhood matter a lot for self-sufficiency and wellbeing later in life,” said Tara Watson, an economics professor at Williams College. “If we restrict benefits available to children who will grow up to be adults, in the long run we may be doing more harm than good.”

How federal benefits play into productivity

Studies have shown that people experiencing financial strain tend to be less productive in their work, largely due to the mental burden of not being able to meet their basic needs.

“If you are more concerned with your immediate needs to feed yourself, to house yourself, to make yourself warm, you are not able to make those investments that will help you make smarter decisions about your future and your family’s future,” said Andrew Lim, director of quantitative research for New American Economy.

Public welfare advocates say federal benefits, such as food stamps and housing assistance, alleviate financial stress, and more worker productivity tends to mean higher pay, which, in turn, means more contributions to federal taxes and the U.S. economy as a whole. Conversely, if a person does not have access to basic health care, they could become sick and unable to work.

The Department of Homeland Security has said it “does not agree that this rule would be the cause of such unfortunate events,” such as a person becoming ill.

How fewer lower skilled workers would affect certain industries

While higher-skilled immigrants tend to make more money and, therefore, contribute more to the U.S. economy, certain industries rely heavily on lower-skilled immigrants.

The hospitality, agriculture and construction sectors in particular have been facing labor shortages in recent years.

The expanding economy has been creating more jobs, but a crackdown on unauthorized immigrants, combined with better job opportunities in immigrants’ home countries–particularly in Mexico–have contributed to a shortage of workers.

If fewer low-income immigrants are allowed into the U.S. because of the public charge rule, those shortages are likely to worsen.

But the Trump administration has taken other steps to increase the number of immigrants workers allowed into the U.S. each year to work specifically in the agriculture industry and in seasonal jobs, which could offset some of the reduction that might be caused by the public charge rule.

A chilling effect?

Opponents of the public charge rule argue it could have a chilling effect, causing immigrants who are legally allowed to use federal public benefits to forgo utilizing those programs –particularly children who are U.S. citizens but live with their immigrant parents.

While it is unclear whether there is a direct link to the rule’s unveiling in 2018, SNAP participation rates among families with immigrant members fell between March 2018 and March 2019.

During the same time, the participation rate for households with no immigrants increased, according to Watson’s analysis of federal data that was first published in Econofact.

In response to concerns about a chilling effect, the Department of Homeland Security said in its final rule that it expects immigrants “will make purposeful and well-informed decisions,” but the agency said they declined to scale back the rule to avoid the possibility that individuals might choose not to enroll in welfare programs because “self-sufficiency is the rule’s ultimate aim.”

An economic or value judgment?

In the end, Watson said it is difficult to calculate exactly how much the public charge rule will affect the U.S. economy.

The change is a rule, not a law, and the language is fairly vague, so the next presidential administration could choose how much weight to give the income thresholds and public benefits measurements when considering the host of factors involved in an immigrants’ application for legal status.

While some countries put more emphasis on immigrants’ skillset when considering admission, the U.S. has historically prioritized family reunification. If the public charge rule is strictly enforced, the U.S. would be signaling a major shift in its immigration policy.

“We would lose the emphasis on families,” Watson said. “And that’s a value judgment the American people need to make.”

For their part, Trump administration officials have said the rule promotes the “ideals of self-sufficiency and personal responsibility.”

Source: How a wealth test for immigrants could affect the U.S. economy

U.S. Supreme Court lets hardline Trump immigration policy take effect

Sigh:

The U.S. Supreme Court gave the go-ahead on Monday for one of President Donald Trump’s hardline immigration policies, allowing his administration to implement a rule denying legal permanent residency to certain immigrants deemed likely to require government assistance in the future.

The justices, on a 5-4 vote, granted the administration’s request to lift a lower court’s injunction that had blocked the so-called public charge policy while litigation over its legality continues. The rule has been criticized by immigrant rights advocates as a “wealth test” that would disproportionately keep out non-white immigrants.

The court’s five conservative justices, including Chief Justice John Roberts and two justices appointed by Trump, carried the day. The court’s four liberal justices said they would have denied the administration’s request. The action was announced even as Roberts sat as the presiding officer in Trump’s impeachment trial in the U.S. Senate.

Lawsuits aiming to block the policy were filed against the administration by the states of New York, Connecticut and Vermont as well as by New York City and several nonprofit organizations.

In imposing an injunction blocking it, Manhattan-based U.S. District Judge George Daniels on Oct. 11 called the rule “repugnant to the American Dream” and a “policy of exclusion in search of a justification.”

The administration asked the high court to let the rule go into effect even before the New York-based 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rules on Trump’s appeal of the injunction. The 2nd Circuit is considering the matter on an expedited basis, with legal papers to be submitted by Feb. 14 and arguments expected soon afterward.

The administration can now enforce the rule nationwide except in Illinois, where a lower court has blocked its implementation.

Ken Cuccinelli, acting deputy secretary at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), praised the high court.

“It is very clear the U.S. Supreme Court is fed up with these national injunctions by judges who are trying to impose their policy preferences instead of enforcing the law,” Cuccinelli told reporters.

GREEN CARDS

At issue is which immigrants will be granted legal permanent residency, known as a “green card.” Under Trump’s policy, immigration officers would consider factors such as age, educational level and English proficiency to decide whether an immigrant would likely become a “public charge” who would receive government benefits such as the Medicaid health insurance program for the poor.

The administration has said the new rule is necessary to better ensure that immigrants will be self-sufficient. Critics have said the rule would disproportionately bar low-income people from developing countries in Latin America, Africa and Asia from permanent residency.

“Limiting legal immigration based on an applicant’s wealth is shameful and entirely un-American,” Democratic Senator Dick Durbin wrote on Twitter.

A spokesman for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the agency that processes visa applications, said it would “determine the most appropriate method to implement the public charge rule” and would release additional information soon.

Trump has made his tough immigration stance a hallmark of his presidency and 2020 re-election campaign.

U.S. immigration law has long required officials to exclude people likely to become a “public charge” from permanent residency. U.S. guidelines in place for the past two decades had said immigrants likely to become primarily dependent on direct cash assistance or long-term institutionalization, in a nursing home for example, at public expense would be barred.

The new rule expands the “public charge” bar to anyone deemed likely to receive a much wider range of public benefits for more than an aggregate of 12 months over any 36-month period including healthcare, housing and food assistance.

The vast majority of people seeking permanent residency are not eligible for public benefits themselves. A 2019 Urban Institute survey found that the administration’s rule was already deterring people from seeking benefits for U.S. citizen children for fear of harming their own future immigration status. Benefits for family members are not considered under the rule.

Claudia Center, a lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union, said the rule targets disabled people applying for green cards and “enshrines the false stereotype that people with disabilities do not contribute to our society.”

The high court could give Trump more victories on immigration policy. The conservative justices signaled support in November for Trump’s bid to kill a program that protects hundreds of thousands of immigrants – dubbed “Dreamers” – who entered the United States illegally as children. A ruling is due by the end of June.

The court in 2018 upheld Trump’s “travel ban” targeting people from several Muslim-majority countries.

Conservative Justice Neil Gorsuch, a Trump appointee who voted to lift the injunction, issued an opinion criticizing lower courts’ “increasingly common” use of nationwide injunctions to halt government policies. Gorsuch urged the court to confront the issue.

“What in this gamesmanship and chaos can we be proud of?” Gorsuch asked.

Two other federal appeals courts previously lifted nationwide injunctions ordered by lower courts blocking the rule.

Source: U.S. Supreme Court lets hardline Trump immigration policy take effect

Trump’s hard-line immigration rule could disproportionately hurt Asian immigrants

Not the first article examining the likely effects on particular groups and likely not the last:

A hard-line Trump administration immigration policy that would deny immigrants residency if they are deemed likely to become a “public charge,” or need public assistance, could significantly affect the Asian American community.

The Department of Homeland Security rule, which was published in August, greatly expanded the definition of who is considered a public charge. Given the community’s use of certain social services, high rates of limited English proficiency, and heavy reliance on the family reunification system to come to the United States, immigration advocates fear that the rule would create serious barriers for Asian immigrants or those who wish to change their status.

Research from the Migration Policy Institute reveals more than 941,000 recent green card holders would have fallen under the Trump administration rule had it been in effect when they applied. Of those, 300,000 are from Asian countries.

A federal judge temporarily blocked the rule earlier this month, allowing a total of 15 days — which ends Friday — for parties to submit filings. The policy is currently enjoined and cannot be implemented by the administration, but it has already impacted many in the community who fear their use of public benefits could compromise their immigration status.

“The policy itself, the mere suggestion that the administration was considering the policy, has resulted in Asian immigrants and other immigrants pulling out of public benefits,” John C. Yang, executive director of the civil rights nonprofit Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC, told NBC News.

Yang added: “This [rule], to us, is just a made-up reason to exclude certain classes of immigrants.”

The current definition of public charge is rather specific. Those who would need cash assistance or institutionalized care would fall under the category. However the Trump administration’s expanded definition would include individuals who would need food stamps, Medicaid, and Section 8 housing. The administration rationalized the rule, claiming that “self-sufficiency has long been a basic principle of U.S. immigration law.”

Roughly 70 percent to 80 percent of Asian immigrants come to the U.S. through family-based immigration, which means they would be scrutinized under the Trump administration rule. Of the more than 420,000 green cards that were granted to Asian immigrants in Fiscal Year 2017, almost 40 percent were given to immediate family members, while more than 20 percent were given to family-sponsored waiting list registrants.

In some urban areas, the Asian American community experiences particularly high rates of poverty. In New York City, Asian Americans have the highest poverty rate compared to all other racial groups. The racial group has one of the fastest growing populations in poverty. Between 2007 and 2011, the number of Asian Americans in poverty grew by 37 percent and Pacific Islander poverty ballooned by 60 percent, higher compared to any other group. The national increase was significantly lower at 27 percent.

Almost 18 percent of those who participate in government assistance programs are Asian Americans. However those in the community already underuse social services, Jo-Ann Yoo, executive director of the New York City-based social services nonprofit Asian American Federation, said. Not only would underprivileged immigrants meet challenges in obtaining permanent residency, but Yoo said that the proposed rule would further intimidate them from utilizing public services.

According to the new public charge rule, immigrants would also be assessed on English proficiency. The Asian American population already has the highest proportion of residents who speak a language other than English at home. And more than one-third of Asian American and Pacific Islanders have limited English proficiency.

“The Trump administration has a very narrow view of what types of immigrants are so-called desirable in the United States and frankly it is a racist and xenophobic view,” Yang told NBC News. “That view is that only people who are desirable are already proficient in English, already have a certain level of wealth or high skills.”

Since the rule was proposed back in 2018, roughly 13 percent of immigrant adults are reported to have withdrawn their use of public benefits out of fear of risking their future green card status, according to a report by Urban Institute. Yang added that some individuals who would not be subject to the rule have actually pulled out of public services due to misinformation.

“It does not affect refugees. It does not affect existing citizens,” he said. “We don’t want people to be fearful of using public benefits when they are entitled to use them.”

Asian Americans have long confronted restrictive immigration policies tied to the potential use of social services. The first public charge rule in U.S. history coincided with the passage of the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882. The two separate legal rules ultimately carried the same function.

“There’s an absolute linkage between the discrimination of Asians and public charge,” Yang said. “[The first public charge rule and the Chinese Exclusion Act] were rooted in the same thing: which was this notion that Chinese immigrants were coming into the country in numbers that were too large and that they were somehow deemed to be undesirable.”

Yang pointed out that since that time, public charge has been used to exclude other immigrant communities, including Mexican immigrants and those in the Jewish community.

Source: Trump’s hard-line immigration rule could disproportionately hurt Asian immigrants

How Will The Public Charge Rule Impact Employers And Immigrants?

One of the better pieces I have seen on the potential impact of these changes, from a former staffer at the Obama White House:

On September 22, 2018, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released a notice of proposed rulemaking that could have a dramatic impact on immigrants, temporary visa holders and U.S. employers. If fully implemented, the “public charge rule,” as it is known, could be the most far-reaching immigration policy change made during Donald Trump’s time in office.

To better understand the proposed rule and its potential impact, I interviewed Doug Rand, who served as assistant director for entrepreneurship at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (September 2010 to January 2017) and is president and co-founder of the technology startup Boundless.

Stuart Anderson: Under current law, what does the term public charge mean?

Doug Rand: Congress long ago established that the U.S. government can deny certain green cards and temporary visas to anyone who “is likely at any time to become a public charge” – but without defining precisely what “public charge” means. The law allows immigration officers to “at a minimum consider the alien’s age; health; family status; assets, resources and financial status; and education and skills.” They can also consider a sworn statement of financial support from a sponsoring relative and, in fact, this “affidavit of support” is required for many family-based green card applications.

Anderson: How is public charge currently applied?

Rand: There have been periods of confusion, especially after major immigration and welfare reform bills were passed by Congress in 1996. Even though the new laws did not prohibit immigrants from using public services, such as emergency rooms and school lunch programs, families read the headlines and became worried.

In 1999, to clear things up, immigration officers adopted the guiding principle that a public charge is a foreign national with “the likelihood of . . . becoming primarily dependent on the government for subsistence,” as evidenced by use of a short list of government benefits: cash assistance (“welfare”), Supplementary Security Income (SSI) for the disabled, or assistance for long-term institutional care like a nursing home or mental health institution.

Anderson: How has that affected immigrants and visa applicants so far?

Rand: Very few people have traditionally been denied a green card or temporary visa on public charge grounds for two primary reasons.

First, Congress has already barred most non-citizens from using welfare, SSI, and non-emergency Medicaid, so that’s not an issue.

Second, Congress requires most green card applicants to have a financial sponsor – typically a family member who is a U.S. citizen – who declares their willingness and ability to support their relative and prevent them from becoming dependent on government benefits. So, under current rules, you know you won’t be considered “likely to become a public charge” as long as you have a sponsor who demonstrates income greater than 125% of the federal poverty guidelines (currently $20,575 for most couples without children).

Anderson: What is different in the new DHS proposed rule?

Rand: DHS wants to turn more than a century of precedent on its head. Instead of keeping the current definition of a “public charge” as someone “primarily dependent on the government for subsistence,” DHS would start denying green cards and temporary visas to anyone who is deemed likely at any time in the future to receive any government benefit from a specified list.

Anderson: What would that mean in practice?

Rand: Most press coverage so far has focused on the expanded list of government benefits that would be off-limits for the first time. Basically, you can’t touch food stamps, federal housing and rental assistance, non-emergency Medicaid benefits, or Medicare Part D healthcare subsidies – even if you’re eligible for these programs – without taking on the risk that DHS denies your green card or visa application down the road.

But that’s just the beginning. Remember, immigration officers have to determine whether someone is “likely to become a public charge” at any point in the future, and actual use of government programs is only one of some 15 factors that DHS wants to start scrutinizing.

Any of the following factors could become a “negative factor” that convinces DHS you are likely to become a public charge:

  1. Prior or current use of certain public benefits.
  2. Being older than 61.
  3. Being younger than 18.
  4. Having any medical condition that could interfere with school or work.
  5. Not having sufficient resources to cover such a medical condition.
  6. Not having private health insurance.
  7. Having several children or other dependents.
  8. Having financial liabilities.
  9. Having “bad credit” or a low credit score.
  10. Having no employment history.
  11. Not having a high school diploma or higher education.
  12. Not having “adequate education and skills” to hold a job.
  13. Not speaking English.
  14. Receiving an application fee waiver from DHS.
  15. Having a sworn financial sponsor whom DHS feels is “unlikely” to follow.

The only way to sail above this thicket of new criteria would be to demonstrate a household income above 250% of the federal poverty guidelines. That’s currently $41,150 for a couple with no children and $73,550 for a family of five.

Anderson: How does this rule affect the practices of the Department of State and the Department of Justice?

Rand: For the most part, DHS only decides who gets to stay in the United States, by deciding whether to approve or deny applications for extensions and change of status (i.e., international student to H-1B), or applications for green cards from people who are already here. But it’s clear in this latest rule proposal that DHS wants these heightened public charge standards to also be adopted by the State Department, which decides who gets to come to the United States from abroad. (The State Department has already instructed its consular officers to apply a stricter set of public charge standards since January 2018, but the DHS rule is even more demanding and the ultimate plan is for the two agencies to be in lockstep.)

Then there’s the Department of Justice, which largely decides which permanent residents could be deported on public charge grounds. Historically, if you had a green card, this wasn’t something you had to worry about. But the Trump administration just quietly revealed that the Department of Justice intends to issue its own “parallel rulemaking” on deportability that would mirror the new and expanded DHS standards.

Anderson: How could the rule affect a U.S. employer or a temporary visa holder?

Rand: First, there are the direct effects. A U.S. employer is going to find it more difficult and much less predictable to extend the status of a highly skilled worker on an H-1B visa or to help switch a key recruit from a student visa to an H-1B. Unless the employer is paying the worker more than that newly made-up threshold – 250% of the poverty line – they might not be able to renew their work visa and stay in the United States. Assuming $73,550 for a family of five, that’s potentially going to be some portion of H-1B professionals.

Then there’s the bureaucratic cost. By DHS’s own estimate, its new public charge rule would affect over 500,000 temporary visa applications each year and compliance costs could top $1.3 billion over the next decade. And that’s a huge underestimate if the State Department starts applying the same standards to millions of applicants abroad.

It’s probably going to take longer for employers to get applications approved because a number of applicants may be required to submit an entirely new form (the I-944, or “Declaration of Self-Sufficiency”) and accompanying evidence. USCIS adjudicators and consular officers will have to sift through these new forms to make complex and subjective public charge determinations, which could create delays even for those not subject to the new requirements.

Anderson: Will adjudicators look only at benefits used after the date the final regulation is published?

Rand: Yes, the proposed rule is clear that nobody should be penalized for using public benefits until DHS implements a final regulation and officially puts these benefits off-limits, which won’t happen until next year at the earliest. That’s a really important point for people to understand, that nothing has changed yet.

Anderson: Is there a way for an applicant to know ahead of time if their application is likely to be approved?

Rand: There’s always some uncertainty involved in any application, since immigration officers exercise a fair amount of case-by-case discretion. But the DHS public charge plan would turbo-charge that uncertainty by introducing so many new factors for officers to scrutinize. DHS is demanding that its officers go beyond the usual determination of eligibility for a given green card or visa category and engage in fortune-telling: Is this applicant likely to be financially vulnerable at any point in their natural lives? If so, then deny the application.

Anderson: If a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident petitions for their spouse, how could their spouse be denied under the rule and what would be the consequences of that denial?

Rand: We asked ourselves this question at Boundless, since we assist married couples who apply for spousal green cards. We evaluated our own customers as a reasonably representative sample of the marriage green cards issued each year and estimated how many of them would fall below the new income threshold that the public charge rule would impose. Remember, that’s 250% of the federal poverty guidelines, currently over $41,000 for most couples without children.

We found that if this new requirement were strictly enforced by both DHS and the State Department, then the administration could begin denying more than half of all marriage green card applicants each year. That could force nearly 200,000 couples annually to either leave the United States together or live apart indefinitely.

Anderson: How would a parent, adult child or sibling be denied under the rule?

Rand: It’s possible even more parents of U.S. citizens would be denied than spouses. If you look at the list of new criteria DHS wants to impose, a great many parents could be denied on the basis of age, income, medical condition or English proficiency. The Migration Policy Institute used Census data to estimate the impact of the 250% income threshold and found that some 56% of all family-based green card applicants could be denied.

Anderson: What is the role of sponsors under the rule?

Rand: Ironically, the DHS proposal doesn’t directly change the role of a sponsor – whether that’s a U.S. citizen or permanent resident sponsoring a family member, or a U.S. employer sponsoring a worker. However, by heaping new scrutiny on the health, financial condition and other aspects of the applicant, DHS would effectively minimize the role of the sponsor in assuring that the applicant has a high chance of getting their visa or green card approved.

Anderson: Do you expect there will be legal challenges to the rule? When do you expect the rule could take effect?

Rand: Given that just about every other immigration policy executed by this administration has been challenged in court, it would be odd if the public charge rule were an exception. But that won’t happen immediately.

First, after DHS officially publishes this proposed rule, it will be open for public comments for 60 days. After that, DHS has to read through all of the public comments, prepare a response to each substantive concern, and potentially make major changes to its regulatory plan and economic impact analysis. This process usually takes a long time – six months would be light speed, and well over a year isn’t uncommon for a complex regulation like this. Only then would DHS publish the “final rule” and, if it’s not blocked by a federal judge, then it would take effect.

Anderson: What do you think is the biggest problem with the rule?

Rand: When it comes to the public charge standards, the status quo policy has served us well. Congress already decided who’s eligible for public benefits and who isn’t, and established a clear income threshold for sponsors.

The proposed rule is designed to impede and reduce legal immigration. Never in our nation’s history have we said that you have to be comfortably middle class to become an American. We didn’t say that to Alexander Hamilton, or Andrew Carnegie, or the founders of Google and WhatsApp, or countless other immigrants who came here with next to nothing, worked hard and made this country great.

Source: How Will The Public Charge Rule Impact Employers And Immigrants?