The Trump Administration recently issued a clarification of existing law as it pertains to immigrants who are likely to become, or have come, a public charge. Here are three things you need to know about the “new” public charge regulations:
- The ban on those likely to become a public charge goes all the way back to the days of colonial Massachusetts, but was first enacted into the federal immigration law in 1882. It was later reinforced in the 1952 Immigration and Nationality Act, the current basis of the nation’s immigration laws.
- Congress reiterated its desire to bar those likely to become a public charge in 1996, noting that immigrants should arrive self-sufficient. (Compare that sentiment to the fact that today, nearly half of all immigrant-led households are on some form of public assistance, as compared to 30 percent of native households).
- The fact that about half of the immigrant population is not self-sufficient is a problem now, and will be an even larger problem in the future. According to data from the Census Bureau’s Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP), 7.5 million immigrants will be enrolled in Medicaid – an already struggling program – by 2030.
The fact that the American welfare system is already overburdened is not only an argument for enforcing the public charge regulations, but also a reason for moving the nation to a more merit-based immigration system. Choosing immigrants who are self-sufficient and have the skills to thrive in our high tech economy is a win-win scenario for both legal immigrants and the nation as a whole.