Trump administration wants to limit green cards to legal immigrants when needing public servicees

Vox, in a detailed article by Dara Lind, has reported on a proposed regulation within the Department of Homeland Security to deny certain immigration benefits to legal immigrants who have legally used certain public services, including Head Start for US-born kids, CHIP, and assistance in paying utilities for their homes. The immigration benefits denied might include green cards, or visa extensions. The Vox article has a PDF embed of the proposed regulation.

DHS reasons that these regulations would be necessary to keep otherwise legal immigrants from becoming “public charges”.

It isn’t hard to imagine the practical economic complications.  For example, some immigrants do manual labor for very low wages, and employers could lose them (as with the DACA debate) but arguably could be expected to pay them more.

A practical way to handle this, as Cato Institute has suggested in the past, is to develop a framework for lawful sponsorship programs following the patterns in Canada.  It is possible today for organizations (like churches) to “sponsor” refugees under the supervision of one of ten or so accredited social service organizations (including Catholic Charities or Lutheran Social Services, for example).  However, as noted here before, Canada encourages groups of perhaps five adults to take legal responsibility for support of refugees (who are legal immigrants) for set time periods (over a year generally).  That concept could be helpful in meeting the goal of preventing immigrants from becoming charges. Considerable social pressure exists on single adults in some communities in Canada to participate, typically supporting immigrants with the same nationality or origin and often the same religion (which can include Muslim).

It should also be remembered that many immigrant communities (especially Latino and Asian) are very effective in starting local businesses, typically more so than native “Americans” raised in a culture where you apply for jobs with someone else.  Many brand franchise stores (like McDonalds) are owned by immigrants or their immediate succeeding adult children, who have grown up in families that have passed on the skills of small business ownership to their kids. Also many totally independent small businesses (“Shark Tank” culture) are owned by immigrant families in these groups, although they sometimes have to deal with predatory practices of trademark or patent “trolls”, as Electronic Frontier Foundation has often documented.

The slowness in progress in resolving the DACA issue in Congress is discouraging, as was Nancy Pelosi’s recent need to put on a stunt of an eight hour speech on the problem.  This goes beyond Trump. It seems that a sizable number of “conservative Republicans” regard DACA kids as “not us” and feel that “morality” means “take care of your own first” in a zero-sum-game world.  I suppose, however, that I can imagine an intellectually driven moral framework for autarky and nativism.  It usually works out badly for the countries that try it.

Were DACA to die starting in March, there could be a large number of people who lose the right to work without being deported.  They would be looking for private persons to support them, who could in turn put themselves at legal risk.  This reminds one of the general lack of supervision in helping asylum seekers when compared to refugees.

It’s worthy to note that former vice president Joe Biden told Chris Cuomo that even as a legal matter, “equity” now requires fair treatment of Dreamers.

(Posted: Friday, February 9, 2018 at 11 PM EST)

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