December 14, 2018 –Ensuring Self-Sufficiency in Our Immigration System
What is the problem?
Individuals who have legally immigrated to the United States, temporarily or permanently, but who are not citizens, have been accessing public benefits, such as Medicaid, federal housing assistance, and food stamps. These benefits are funded by hardworking taxpayers and are intended to be used by American citizens who need assistance to get back on their feet.
Why is this a problem?
Congress has long-established that individuals immigrating to the United States should benefit our nation and should be entirely self-sufficient. It is, after all, determination, personal responsibility, and, the American spirit that has allowed our nation to prosper and to become the greatest on earth. While the United States is a nation of compassion that has historically offered a hand up to people in need, including citizens, refugees, and asylees, we should not allow access to taxpayer-funded public assistance to be an incentive to immigrate to the United States.
We must also take our current $21 trillion federal debt into account when examining who has access to these benefits. We are on an unsustainable spending path and must find federal programs in which we can reduce spending. It is common sense that access to these programs should be limited to American citizens and vulnerable legal immigrants like refugees and asylees.
What are we doing about it?
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service recently proposed a rule to decrease the ability of legal immigrants to use taxpayer-funded public benefits. For individuals applying to immigrate to the United States, USCIS has proposed raising the bar for these individuals to prove that they will be self-sufficient. For individuals who are already in the United States on a visa, use of certain public benefits will make them ineligible to renew their visa.
During the comment period for the proposed rule, I submitted a comment in support of the rule. You can read my comment here. It is time that the federal government get serious about addressing loopholes in our immigration system and I happy USCIS has taken this step.
What are they saying?
“I’m proud of the work we’re doing to administer the nation’s lawful immigration system, safeguard its integrity & protect our homeland on behalf of the American people.” – Director Francis Cissna, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
"The late civil rights icon, Barbara Jordan, who chaired the last bipartisan commission on immigration, said that immigration should serve "the national interest." Annually, taxpayers spend $1.1 trillion on welfare programs. The Center for Immigration Studies has determined that 63% of immigrant headed households access at least one form of welfare. The Trump Administration's proposed rule updates the outdated Clinton-era regulation while saving U.S. taxpayers millions of dollars and ensuring that our immigration system better serves the national interest." – Chris Chmielenski, Deputy Director, NumbersUSA
“The underlying rational for not admitting prospective immigrants who are likely to be public charges is that non-humanitarian immigration is supposed to benefit the American people. That is, those allowed into the country to live here are supposed to be self-sufficient, living without cash or other in-kind transfers from American taxpayers. it reflects the fact that resources are not unlimited and America must prioritize the care of its own poor. After all, the United States already has 40 million residents in poverty, spends $1.1 trillion annually on programs on low-income Americans, and runs a federal budget deficit of roughly a trillion dollars annually. Adding to these challenges by admitting more people who need taxpayer assistance makes little sense.” – Steven Camarota, Director of Research, Center for Immigration Studies