Last night in Iowa, President Trump called for a plan that would deny welfare benefits to any immigrant for a minimum of five years. The President said he would be asking Congress to pass such legislation very soon in an effort to ban all immigrants from accessing public assistance within five years of the time they enter the U.S.
Mr Trump told the crowd in Grand Rapids, Iowa, “The time has come for new immigration rules that say … those seeking immigration into our country must be able to support themselves financially and should not use welfare for a period of at least five years.”
The proposal would build on the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996, which allows federal authorities to deport immigrants who become public dependents within five years of their arrival. Many of that law’s provisions were rolled back during the George W. Bush and Barack Obama administrations. President Trump’s plan would revisit the program and woul add additional categories of federal benefits defined as off-limits to immigrants.
The plan appears to remove the ability of the individual states to determine eligibility for local public assistance programs if any federal money is involved in them. Currently, foreigners with non-immigrant visas and those who don’t have legal status are generally prohibited from those benefits altogether.
Trump’s proposal would also prevent the admission of people who are likely to become so-called “public charges” within five years of their arrival. The concept of “public charge” has been part of U.S. immigration law for over a century. It allows the government to bar entry to individuals who are likely to seek public assistance. Trump is expected to propose toughening up the rules regarding “public charge” and ensuring that they are once again enforced.
The administration had prepared a draft executive order that would have put those changes into effect earlier this year. But the Administration decided it prefers that Congress to codify this plan into law. A White House source said that in making his case for the changes, President Trump will cite a 2015 report from the Center for Immigration Studies that found 51 percent of households headed by an immigrant are using some form of public assistance, compared to 30 percent among non-immigrant families.