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New Green Card Regulation: USA Does Not Want Poor Immigrants

There will soon be a new hurdle for immigrants on the way to US citizenship. The Trump administration has announced that the “Public Charge” rule is applied from October 15, 2019. It is designed to prevent immigrants who might later be on the government’s pocket from getting a green card. The Green Card has been marked permanent residence permit. Immigrants who want to live in the United States permanently and plan to apply for American citizenship must first have a green card.

Low income as a reason for a rejection

“Public Charge” rules have been around for a long time in the Immigration Act. But now the US government is fleshing out the regulations. Green card applicants are screened for a list of factors to indicate whether candidates will need government support at the time of review or in the future. In addition to knowledge of English, the factors also include age, state of health and level of education – and the applicant’s current income.

Current income can predict future income to a certain extent. But: “Immigrants tend to show an increase in income after they have really arrived in the United States,” said the migration expert in a DW interview. Therefore, the focus on current income makes little sense, especially for immigrants, when it comes to predicting whether a person will need support from the state in the future.

Immigrants have brought the US economy forward

This regulation disadvantages poor immigrants who hope for a green card. The Migration Policy Institute says it mainly affects people from Africa and Latin America, the very people who are a thorn in the side of US President Donald Trump. Immigrants from Europe, for example, fell less under the new rule. And precisely on the grounds of equal rights, several US states have now filed lawsuits against the government: California, Maine, Oregon, Pennsylvania and the federal district of Washington.

Abel Nunez, director of the Central American Resource Center (CARECEN), an aid organization for migrants from Central America, also criticizes the focus on income. “Immigrants as a group have pushed the US economy forward,” Nunez told DW. “They take jobs at the lower end of society and work their way up from there, or make it possible for their children.”

Many people who came to the United States as immigrants in the past would not have had a chance under the new rules, Nunez says. “You just have to look at Irish immigrants. These people were starving, really poor people. But they have had a great impact on this nation. Today there is no police station and no fire station in large cities that are not shaped by Irish migration has been.”

The fear is about

Another point that will be considered under the new rule when it comes to who gets a green card: Has the applicant ever received government support, for example in the form of food stamps or the Medicaid health program? Compared to the previous law, the new “Public Charge” regulation has a much longer list of grants, the use of which can be interpreted negatively by immigrants in the application process.

The crux of the matter: Immigrants who do not yet have a green card are not entitled to most of these supports anyway. And programs such as free school lunches for children from poor families to which immigrants are entitled are not on the negative list. But different discussed facts on immigration regulations, old and new, are so confusing that the fear of green card disqualification is now spreading.

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