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New Public Benefit Rule to Cause More Harm than Good

(Arlington, VA) – The Department of Homeland Security has published a new rule regarding the admission, extensions of visas, and adjustments of status to legal permanent residency (LPR) of immigrants to the United States, and the determination of whether they may be “likely” to rely on welfare benefits – and therefore, deemed to be a “public charge.” Current “public charge” determinations are based on whether an applicant is “primarily” dependent on the government. The new proposed rule would make the test more inconsistent and subjective in determining whether an applicant is “likely” to receive government assistance amounting to greater than 15 percent of the poverty line in any single year.

Kevin Hernandez, Policy Director for The LIBRE Initiative, released the following statement:

“The American people feel more strongly than ever that immigration is a good thing for our country, and that immigrants help grow our economy and make America better. Yet, the administration’s continued efforts to curtail legal immigration through unilateral actions persist. This rule does nothing to stop immigrants from using the limited welfare available to them under the law. An open debate in Congress can better solve the interaction between welfare and immigration, rather than attempting to further restrict and complicate legal immigration under the guise of a welfare reform regulatory rule.


This rule intends to save money by blocking the entry of immigrants based on a flawed and subjective assessment that ignores the contributions that applicants have made, or will make, to the country. But the result will likely be to chill immigration by making a complex system even more difficult for those attempting to come legally into this country. Our communities, businesses, and economy will suffer as the rule is likely to turn away immigrants who will contribute their ideas and talents in a mutually beneficial way to society. In short, this rule is poorly thought out, and it may lead to the opposite result of what is intended. Instead of more unilateral action from the executive, it’s time for an open debate in Congress.”


Freedom Partners Executive Vice President Nathan Nascimento made the following statement:

“We should always welcome people who desire to come here and contribute, because is it both morally right and their efforts benefit our nation, economy, and taxpayers. Moreover, with a strong economy fueled by the Trump administration’s pro-growth policies, unemployment is at a nearly 50-year low and many companies struggle to find workers. We’re concerned that this proposed rule discourages well-intentioned, legal immigrants from coming here, particularly at a time when their contributions are needed the most.


The government’s legal immigration rules and approach to providing public benefits are both overdue for reform. However, this heavy-handed proposal is the wrong approach. Instead, the administration and Congress should work together on bipartisan immigration reform and on re-examining public benefits in light of runaway government spending.”