Democratic senators Mazie Hirono of Hawaii and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut introduced legislation Tuesday to block the Trump administration’s “public charge” rule.
The rule, finalized last month and scheduled to take effect on October 15, allows the government to deny entry or green cards to immigrants based on their use of public programs like food stamps, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, housing assistance and Medicaid. Under the rule, an immigrant who receives one or more of the specified public benefits for more than 12 months in any 36-month period would be ineligible for entry or lawful permanent residence in the U.S.
The rule would also require immigration officials to consider factors such as an immigrant’s age, health, wealth, family size, skills, education and English language proficiency. Under the previous rule, only receipt of significant direct cash subsidies from the government led immigrants to be deemed “public charges.”
Ken Cuccinelli, the acting director of US Citizenship and Immigration Services, said last month that the revised rule is intended to ensure that immigrants “can stand on their own two feet.”
Hirono’s Protect American Values Act, which has 26 Senate Democratic co-sponsors, would block enforcement of the new rule, which critics charge is a cruel contravention of the American ethos — and a threat to the economy. “The true effect, and therefore, the true intent behind the administration’s public charge rule is to create a climate of fear among immigrant families, and it’s working,” Hirono said Tuesday.