Trump Wants to Force Green Card Recipients to Repay Government Aid
President Donald Trump and his supporters continue to insist that, when it comes to immigration, their primary focus is on curbing undocumented immigrants from entering the country and deporting those that are dangerous. But as the Trump administration continues to this push, it is becoming increasingly undeniable that these campaigns have a far wider scope: All immigrants in the United States, here legally or not.
The latest immigrant-focused proposal from the Trump administration would, more specifically, target low-income legal immigrants. According to a memorandum recently announced by Trump, those living in the country legally and receiving government aid will be required to provide reimbursements. As he put it, “immigrants must be financially self-sufficient.”
This comes on the heels of a policy shift announced earlier this month by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, or HUD, that would deny access to housing aid for undocumented immigrants. Critics, however, point out that this would affect thousands of legal residents and citizens — many live in “mixed status” households where at least one person lacks legal status. Estimates show that this could mean as many as 108,000 could be evicted from their homes, including 55,000 documented children and even those who are citizens.
Both of these proposals — aimed at low-income individuals — are primarily predicated on one particular policy change. The Trump administration, though insisting that these immigrants and citizens are below a threshold that opens them to such repercussions, are simultaneously seeking to widen how this is applied. In October, the Department of Homeland Security announced this proposal to redefine what is legally considered a “public charge” of the government. Based on a new, complicated formula, it would encompass hundreds of thousands of individuals, by conservative estimates.
Without considering immigrants already residing in the United States with a green card or other documentation, this would also mean possibly excluding roughly one-third of the 1 million individuals who apply for green cards annually — those from low socioeconomic backgrounds.
It’s painfully clear why these policies are being suggested — and it’s not because of the White House’s disingenuous claim that it’s to save taxpayers money. Given Trump’s anti-immigrant tendencies, his motives are two-fold: To create arbitrary new methods of excluding immigrants from the United States and to free up funds that could, rather conveniently, be reallocated toward the increasingly unsustainable costs that come with Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s rapidly ballooning budgetary needs.
It would give the Trump administration a way to reconcile its irresponsible spending on immigrant detention and deportations. Last September, it was revealed that Department of Homeland Security had undergone a significant budgetary reshuffling. Approximately $202 million was taken from various agencies and programs, including FEMA and the TSA, and was poured into funding these recently expanded ICE activities. But even that will likely be far from enough to cover the agency’s needs — ICE officials say that at least $1 billion more will be needed purely for its deportation expenses.
This administration’s war on both immigrants, legal and undocumented, on top of its disdain for low-income families, continues to display a dangerous and baffling penchant for cruelty.
This article was originally published on Care2 on May 29, 2019.