(American Prospect) -- President Trump’s attacks on the safety net continue, and all the better for him if he can disenfranchise multiple marginalized populations in one fell swoop. Today the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) finalized its “public charge” rule, which targets both welfare recipients and immigrants. The rule will both limit immigration and discourage current immigrants—even those who shouldn’t have anything to fear from the rule—from using public-assistance programs.
Current policy allows the government to consider whether an immigrant is at risk of being “dependent” on the government when determining their eligibility for a visa or green card. Under the current “public charge” test, officials may consider the use of cash assistance, such as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (which very few families use) or the use of long-term institutional care, when weighing an immigrant’s eligibility for legal status. The Trump administration’s new rule will expand this definition to factor in a plethora of much more widely used public-assistance programs, including Medicaid, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and public-housing programs. In short, accessing almost any part of the social safety net—or simply being deemed likely to—would become grounds for denial of permanent legal status, or of admission to, the United States.