According to Reuters, the Trump administration is looking into expanding current laws that allow for the deportation of immigrants who utilize public benefits. While this law has been in place for some time, it’s rarely used unless an immigrant has a pre-existing issue for which they require help but failed to disclose it upon entry into the country or they fail to repay benefits when requested.

Many people who are in possession of green cards are entitled to benefits to purchase food or receive medical care for themselves or their children. This includes refugees, who are allowed entry into this country due to fears about personal safety in their countries of origin. Typical benefits include food stamps, supplemental income for people who are older or disabled, housing vouchers, Medicaid, and cash assistance programs to help families who lack sufficient income. On the federal level, most immigrants would be immune to deportation measures. This is because benefits aren’t usually made available until five years after admission, and the new legislation states that only immigrants who receive public benefits during the first five years of admission would be subject to the law. 

On the state level, many new arrivals to this country do receive benefits soon after admission. Many are justifiably concerned, as the new laws could impact people who are legally permitted into the country and previously told they are eligible to receive benefits. Changes have also taken place in terms of the rules for permitting immigrants into the country. Officials have been told to vet immigrants to determine their need and whether they would require public assistance if admitted. 

The legislation is still in the draft stage and will likely receive much opposition. However, it does signal the increasingly tough road many immigrants face when seeking to establish a better life for themselves and their families.