USCIS’s Cuccinelli Is Taking the “Acting” Part of His Title to Heart



Days after being named acting director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), Ken Cuccinelli issued a frank memo reminding individuals who sponsor legal immigrants of their obligation for “every dollar” of public benefits received by the new arrival.

“If the sponsored immigrant receives any federal means-tested public benefits, the sponsor will be expected to reimburse the benefits-granting agency for every dollar of benefits received by the immigrant,” wrote Cuccinelli in a June 14 memo.

Cuccinelli also instructed USCIS officers that they would be required to inform “individuals at their adjustment of status interviews of their sponsors’ responsibilities under existing law and regulations” to reimburse the government for all benefits claimed by the sponsored immigrant.  

The memo is a clear sign of the former Virginia attorney general’s intention to implement President Trump’s May 23 Presidential Memorandum calling for actual enforcement of existing laws pertaining to immigrants’ eligibility for welfare programs, such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Medicaid, and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF).

Immigrants have long been prohibited by law from receiving most welfare benefits, but past administrations have either paid mere lip service to the law or simply ignored it. The presidential memorandum and a separate public charge regulation proposed by the administration last September are part and parcel of an effort to ensure potential immigrants are self-sufficient and unlikely to necessitate support from American taxpayers.

Unlike the public charge rule, which would expand the kinds of public assistance that can be considered when determining whether to deny an applicant a green card, the presidential memorandum simply enforces existing law.

Cuccinelli noted that other federal agencies will also begin to “develop and implement guidance on the presidential memorandum to make sure that agencies enforce these requirements” and then issued a thinly-veiled challenge: “USCIS will do our part.”

The American taxpayer can only hope that the other departments, like Health and Human Services, with oversight over benefit programs, will follow Cuccinelli’s lead by doing what they should be doing anyway – enforcing the law.

About Author

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Jennifer joined FAIR as Web Content Writer in 2017 and brings to the role extensive communications and media background. She began her career as a policy research analyst on multiple national and state political campaigns before entering journalism. In addition to spending over a decade writing for several broadcast and print news outlets, Jennifer directed communications strategy for a member of Congress and a military nonprofit.

4 Comments

  1. avatar

    I’m really getting tired of PAYING for people that have no right to be in this country while we have LEGAL AMERICANS in dire need of help! Lord help us JESUS! this craziness gets me stirred up! I’m tired of getting in line at grocery store & “illegal” immigrants with baskets full of groceries my husband & I can’t afford to buy pull out a “welfare” card & pay for their purchase & go out & get into “brand” new automobiles! why are we so stupid for letting this happen? we have some people that were living in a house behind us that some would be there in daytime & during night others would stay there! my husband said not to worry about it but it just makes me so mad! go to doctor’s & hospital & you see all these “pregnant” women & they aren’t Americans pulling out Medicade cards! I’m not against helping people! I’m against people going into a country “illegally” & taking what they can & sending rewards back to country they came from! they’re not “loyal” to America but to their home country which they should go back to!

  2. avatar

    All immigration advocates love to talk about their romanticized version of immigration of a hundred years and more ago. But it’s as clueless and devoid of actual historical fact as the rest of their nonsense is. There simply were no assistance programs of any kind back then. You were responsible for the people you brought into the country because there was no choice. Now it’s a game of bring in your parents, who never put a nickel into our tax revenues, and then when a couple years pass you claim circumstance changed and they needed subsidized housing and SSI monthly payments.

    California governor Gavin Newsom says that the GOP will be “in the dustbin of history”, just like in California. Of course. That’s the plan all along. Bring in mass amounts of immigrants, legal and illegal, and eventually you change the ethnic makeup. All the anchor babies of those illegals grow up to vote and do so overwhelmingly for Democrats. It’s why they don’t want the border secured.

    But the voters of California have allowed the destruction of their own state. It has the highest poverty rate when taking into account cost of living vs. wages paid, and the worst air pollution in the country because a growing population pushed by immigration negates any laws that restrict pollution. It has among the highest taxes in the country, but their hundreds of billions in pension funds have no money and that will eventually have to be paid out of the yearly budget. Their schools are crumbling under the weight of illegal children. The major cities reek of homeless camps , garbage piles, and human waste. Housing is unaffordable for all but the top earners. But it’s paradise. Just ask them. And they want to do that to the whole country.

    • avatar

      F you California ,ALL OF YOU HARBORING STATES INCLUDING WASHINGTON ST. That harbor and hide illegals. You are and will decline into pure ****. WE WILL WATCH YOU CRUMBLE. Then you all will be absorbed back into the republic which you were founded . and guess what dumb asses .there is nothing you can do about it it has already begun and all I can really say is THANK YOU FOR BEING SO STUPID…