GOP lawmakers push resolution to restore Trump-era 'public charge' rule on admissibility of migrants receiving taxpayer-funded benefits

March 12, 2023
Ben Marquis

Last year, President Joe Biden's administration vacated and reversed the "public charge" rule put in place during the Trump administration that made it more difficult for immigrants who receive certain taxpayer-funded benefits to qualify for a permanent residency "green card" or citizenship.

Now Republicans in the House and Senate have put forward legislation to restore that Trump-era rule in the interest of protecting taxpayers and the integrity of the U.S. immigration system, the Daily Caller reported.

"Public charge" rule clarified under Trump, revised back under Biden

It was in 2019 that, under then-President Donald Trump, the Department of Homeland Security published a final rule that clarified the undefined terms of "public benefit" and "public charge" in relation to Section 212(a)(4) of the Immigration and Nationality Act with regard to what would disqualify an immigrant from eligibility for a green card or citizenship.

The rule stated that an immigrant would be deemed a "public charge" and rendered inadmissible if they received one or more forms of designated public benefits for more than 12 months out of a 36-month period, and included such taxpayer-funded benefits as food stamps, housing assistance, and Medicaid, among other things.

However, in Sept. 2022, President Biden's DHS published a revised rule that allowed immigrants to receive the above benefits without being deemed a "public charge," and only rendered such immigrants inadmissible if they took advantage of taxpayer-funded benefits like Supplement Security Income, cash assistance through the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program, state and local-level cash assistance programs, or "long-term institutionalization" in a government facility.

Joint resolution filed in both chambers

The Daily Caller reported Wednesday that a group of Republican senators led by Sen. Roger Marshall (R-KS) and representatives led by Rep. Troy Nehls (R-TX) reintroduced from last year a joint resolution in both chambers that would formally disapprove of the new DHS revised rule and, using the power of the Congressional Review Act, restore that "public charge" rule to what it had been under the Trump administration.

"With the crisis raging at our southern border and the national debt over $31 trillion, it is fair and sensible to favor prospective new citizens who will not be reliant on government benefits," Marshall said in a statement. "My legislation will ensure America welcomes self-sufficient new citizens who are ready to contribute, while reigning in excessive spending."

Nehls said in his own statement, "We have millions of our own American citizens without health insurance and receiving SNAP benefits, as well as hundreds of thousands sleeping on the streets at night. Instead of making it a priority to find our own citizens homes, meals, and health insurance, Joe Biden continues to exacerbate the issue."

"President Trump had it right. His rule protected states and American taxpayers from burdensome costs and promoted self-sufficiency among incoming foreign nationals. It’s time Biden starts putting Americans first," the Texas congressman added.

Trump rule was popular with American people, for good reason

Breitbart reported that polling at the time showed that around 60 percent of the American people were in favor of former President Donald Trump's "public charge" rule, including roughly 56 percent of Hispanic Americans and 71 percent of Black Americans.

That was likely due to an earlier study from the National Academies of Science that showed how the average immigrant cost taxpayers around $1,600 each overall and that "foreign-born households consume 33 percent more cash welfare than native-born American households."

It was also shown by the Center for Immigration Studies that by a nearly two-to-one margin, 63 percent to 35 percent, non-citizen immigrant households used some form of taxpayer-funded benefits in comparison to native-born citizen-led households.

Current rule only adds more costs to taxpayers

Meanwhile, Breitbart further reported that an estimated 1.2 million immigrants are already granted a green card every year, and that number will likely increase going forward under the new Biden rule that relaxed eligibility requirements of the "public charge" inadmissibility rule.

Of course, that figure only accounts for legal immigrants who are following the current rules in place, and does not account for the estimated 15.5 million illegal aliens already residing in the U.S. who cost taxpayers an estimated $150 billion annually in benefits received or other charges on the public dime.

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