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New Trump Rule Isn’t about Saving Taxpayer Money — It's about Keeping Legal Immigrants Out

September 24, 2018 in Economics

By David Bier

David Bier

A new regulation would ban immigrants who the Trump
administration believes will use public benefits. While I
don’t believe that any noncitizens should get welfare, this
rule will harm taxpayers by denying visas to immigrants who even
the government predicts will be largely self-sufficient in the
United States.

This rule isn’t about protecting taxpayer money —
it’s about keeping out law-abiding immigrants.

The public charge rule will not deny any immigrants welfare.
Instead, it denies them the ability to immigrate legally to the
United States if the government predicts that they will
“likely” rely on welfare at some point in the future.
Thus, even if certain immigrants never use welfare in their lives,
the rule could still be used to keep them out.

Since 1891, the law has denied visas to immigrants who are
“likely to become a public charge.” Prior to this new
regulation, “public charge” — i.e., a ward of the
state — was construed narrowly to exclude only those
immigrants who were “primarily” dependent on the
government, meaning most of their income comes from the

The government’s new revision is so problematic because,
unlike the current standard, it explicitly ignores the degree to
which immigrants support themselves. It adopts a flat rate
standard: If the government predicts that they will use $2.50 per
person per day for a family of four in benefits, it will ban them
from the country. Immigrants who even the government predicts will
95 percent
self-sufficient would still be considered public

The rule has other problems. Given that this rule is about a
prediction, the method of making the prediction becomes
very important. Yet this rule never specifies what it means by
“likely” to use benefits. How confident does the
government have to be that the applicants will use welfare? Is it
70 percent? Is it 50 percent? Is it 20 percent? Apparently every
Department of Homeland Security adjudicator will get to decide
their own standard, leading to wildly variable outcomes and denials
for people who should receive approvals.

The government does have voluminous data on noncitizen welfare,
but rather than use this data to make a precise assessment, it only
vaguely describes factors that adjudicators will
“weight” on a case-by-case basis. Under this process,
no immigrant will know in advance whether they qualify for a

How much does having a job count for you? How much does having
used welfare at some point in the past count against you? The rule
doesn’t say. From the rule, adjudicators would glean the
vague impression that they should start denying more visas to
people who work difficult, lower-paying jobs, who may lack college
degrees — even if they …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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