Federal Proposal Would Limit Immigrants With Disabilities
The Trump administration is proposing a new rule that would make it harder for immigrants with disabilities and their families to get a visa or obtain permanent residency in this country.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security said over the weekend that it will officially propose a regulation to “ensure that those seeking to enter and remain in the United States either temporarily or permanently can support themselves financially and will not be reliant on public benefits.”
Under the plan, receiving certain public benefits — including Supplemental Security Income and most Medicaid benefits — above particular thresholds now or in the past would be a “heavily weighed negative factor,” the agency said.
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The 447-page proposal outlining a wider view of who can be considered inadmissible by virtue of being what’s known as a “public charge” specifically cites “mental disorders” as among the five most expensive health conditions.
“Under long-standing federal law, those seeking to immigrate to the United States must show they can support themselves financially,” said Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen. “This proposed rule will implement a law passed by Congress intended to promote immigrant self-sufficiency and protect finite resources by ensuring that they are not likely to become burdens on American taxpayers.”
Even before the Department of Homeland Security officially revealed the plan this weekend, talk of the possible change was believed to be having a chilling effect. This spring, advocates said they were hearing from immigrants who stopped using public benefits for their children with disabilities who had American citizenship because they worried about how accessing such services could impact their own status.
“To deport individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities who are in our country legally or prevent them from immigrating, goes against the values of our nation,” said Peter Berns, CEO of The Arc. “If a family is otherwise eligible to enter or remain in our country, they shouldn’t be turned away or turned out because their child or another family member has a disability and may need to access government services to live and participate in the community.”
The Department of Homeland Security said the proposal will be published in the Federal Register “in the coming weeks.” At that point, it will be up for public comment for 60 days.