Trump pro­posal would bring ma­jor changes to screen­ing of im­mi­grants

USA TODAY International Edition - - NEWS - Alan Gomez

The Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion is propos­ing a mas­sive, 447-page over­haul of fed­eral reg­u­la­tions that would dra­mat­i­cally change the way the U.S. de­cides which im­mi­grants are deemed a “pub­lic charge.” That new def­i­ni­tion – if it goes into ef­fect – would im­pact the ap­pli­ca­tions of hun­dreds of thou­sands of im­mi­grants try­ing to be­come le­gal per­ma­nent res­i­dents, the first step to­ward even­tu­ally be­com­ing a U.S. cit­i­zen. Crit­ics say the pro­posal goes way too far, pun­ish­ing poorer le­gal im­mi­grants for re­ceiv­ing even small amounts of govern­ment aid just when they need it the most. Lawyers across the coun­try have been di­gest­ing the pro­posed changes, so here are an­swers to the most press­ing ques­tions over the pro­posed over­haul.

How is the def­i­ni­tion chang­ing?

The pro­posed reg­u­la­tions in­volve a com­pli­cated for­mula that vastly ex­pands the def­i­ni­tion of pub­lic charge to in­clude any im­mi­grant who re­ceives vary­ing lev­els of govern­ment aid. That in­cludes cash pro­grams scru­ti­nized by pre­vi­ous ad­min­is­tra­tions, such as Sup­ple­men­tal Se­cu­rity In­come (SSI), Tem­po­rary As­sis­tance for Needy Fam­i­lies (TANF), and state and lo­cal cash as­sis­tance. The new reg­u­la­tions would also con­sider “non-cash” ben­e­fits, such as Sup­ple­men­tal Nu­tri­tion As­sis­tance Pro­gram (known as food stamps), Sec­tion 8 hous­ing and rental as­sis­tance, Medi­care Part D pre­scrip­tion drug ben­e­fits and Med­i­caid in non-emer­gency sit­u­a­tions. The new lim­its would ap­ply to any­body seek­ing a green card, and many for­eign­ers try­ing to get, or ex­tend, tem­po­rary visas.

When will rules go into ef­fect?

The govern­ment is set to pub­lish the pro­posed rules in the Fed­eral Reg­is­ter on Wed­nes­day. That will kick-start a 60-day pe­riod of pub­lic com­ment, where leg­is­la­tors, ad­vo­cacy groups and mem­bers of the pub­lic can weigh in on the changes, so it could take months for the new rules to take ef­fect. The de­part­ment is then ex­pected to con­sider the pub­lic com­ments be­fore is­su­ing a fi­nal rule, a process that nor­mally takes months to fi­nal­ize, but could be sped up.

JOHN MOORE/GETTY IM­AGES

Pro­posed reg­u­la­tions in­volve a com­plex for­mula that greatly ex­pands the def­i­ni­tion of pub­lic charge.

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