Courts block rule to keep out low-income immigrants

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America’s immigration rules are getting harder to keep track of. President Donald Trump’s administration has often sought to restrict entry for one category of immigrant or another, prompting anger from Democrats, immigrant advocates and some state governments. Then courts push back on the proposed restrictions, often pointing to unwritten rules.

One such rule, set to take effect on October 15, would have exempted low-income foreigners already in America seeking green cards or visa extensions. On October 11, three federal courts, in California, New York and Washington State, struck it down, saying it was unreasonable. Two of the three judges issued decisions that apply nationally. One federal judge, in Manhattan, rejected the proposed rule as “indulging the American dream of the opportunity for wealth and success through hard work and upward mobility.”

The rule was first proposed a year ago by the Department of Homeland Security (the State Department enforces a similar rule for out-of-country applicants). Although America has, for more than a century, denied permanent status to some immigrants deemed likely to be dependent on the public welfare, the current administration particularly fond of it – thanks in part to Stephen Miller, a young immigration hawk who serves as the public’s senior adviser. president – to broaden the definition of who is too poor or unfit to live.

Since 1999 officials have been able to reject applicants who are considered “public charges”, that is, those who have relied on cash benefits such as “needy families” or supplementary social insurance for long periods. The new rule allowed for more understanding of that term. It could cover immigrants who receive non-cash benefits, such as food stamps, medical care in the form of Medicaid, certain drug subsidies under Medicare or federal housing subsidies.

By extending the rule in this way, officers would have more discretion to reject applicants. They had to assess the “real circumstances” of a migrant’s life, looking at things like whether he or she speaks English well, has a high school diploma, a job or a place in college, or a high income to enough

How many candidates could be affected? Researchers at the Migration Policy Institute (MPI), in Washington, DC, recently made an estimate by looking at census data for foreign-born residents who arrived in the four years to 2016. They suggested that 69% of applicants would be for green cards or visa extensions. failed at least one of the specified measures; 43% would have failed with two of them.

In response to the proposed change, immigrants may already be changing their behavior, by avoiding public services, so that they are not seen as a public expense. A lawsuit filed by 21 states opposes expanding the definition of public expense, citing concerns that poor migrant families will end up with less access to food, health and other beneficial public services. . Courts are likely to consider the case, which could end up in the High Court, with the judges ruling on the meaning of “public prosecution”.

A second new rule is expected to come into effect from November 3rd, although court decisions may also affect that. It was announced by Mr. Trump only on October 4, leaving little time for officials to prepare. The president ordered that people applying for permanent residence – those seeking green cards this way are mostly immigrants who live with family members who are US citizens or legal permanent residents – proof that they can pay for, or have the resources to pay for, private health insurance. directly for expected medical expenses, within 30 days of arrival. If not, they may be refused entry.

In fact, like the public spending measure, this would mean turning more of the poor back. MPI also assessed the potential impact of this rule. He estimated that 65% of those who apply for green cards, or about 375,000 people a year, could be refused permission. That’s based on an estimate that 34% of recent immigrants have no health insurance at all, and 31% rely on Medicaid or subsidized health insurance (under the Affordable Care Act).

This is likely to be postponed as legal challenges are launched, and as officials scramble to see how the policy could be implemented. Some skeptics of family immigration welcome the new policy. The Center for Immigration Studies, also in Washington, for example, is making the case for immigrants paying for their own health insurance. He estimates that an individual migrant would have to spend $4,600 on it every year.

On October 10, the think tank, which favors lower levels of immigration in general, released reports on the links between health care costs and immigration. One of the authors, Jason Richwine, called Mr. Trump’s proposal for private health insurance a “step in the right direction,” especially because it would undermine the policy of allowing skilled immigrants higher and higher income to get green cards. But even Mr. Richwine is uncertain about the details of Mr. Trump’s plan.

Uncertainty in immigration policy will therefore persist. Perhaps this is exactly what Mr. Trump wants. The main concern is to reassure his base that he is still hostile towards refugees and immigrants, while at the same time keeping immigration as a topic of discussion in the election next year. And after failing in his promise to build a wall on the southern border, he can at least point to strict policies and regulations. They would be law, he might say, if it weren’t for pesky judges getting in the way.

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