Does the Public Charge Rule Deny Citizenship?
On August 12th, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) filed the final version of the Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds rule. Acting head of USCIS Ken Cuccinelli held a press conference announcing the rule, emphasizing that generations of immigrants have pursued their dreams and successfully naturalized without requiring government assistance and needs-based welfare.
Following the announcement, multiple media outlets and activist groups slammed the public charge rule as a “cruel new step.” One activist claimed that the rule advances the idea that “if you are brown and you are an immigrant, you are not welcome here.” The Washington Post ran a story making the blanket claim that the rule denies citizenship.
That assertion is simply incorrect. The public charge rule will prevent some nonimmigrant visa holders from adjusting their status to a lawful permanent resident (green card)if they are likely to require significant government assistance in the future. That is not the same as denying citizenship.
Further, this is not some novel concept, it began in the 19th century. The new rule only provides further guidance on how the existing law should be applied to people likely to become dependent on entitlements in the future. Entitlement spending already makes up 70% of total government spending and is pushing us to the brink of financial disaster – any effort to reduce that spending is a step in the right direction.
The public charge rule does not deny citizenship to those who already have green cards and hope to naturalize – i.e. become citizens. The policy will not apply retroactively to people who used past benefits, and also does not apply to family members of U.S. citizens. It does not affect recipients of refugee and asylum seeking naturalization.
And the hypocrisy surrounding this issue is awe inspiring. Open borders activists first told us that immigrants actually use very little welfare and few public services. Now, they are telling us that preventing public charges from pursuing green cards will affect hundreds of thousands of immigrants who need benefits. Which is it? It’s not possible for both assertions to be correct at the same time.
The howling critics of the President refuse to admit that this is actually a straight-forward and common-sense proposal. Since the 19th century, American policy has dictated that immigrants should attempt to be self-reliant. The public charge rule promotes the fundamental American principle of self-sufficiency, enforces long-standing law, and protects American taxpayers from runaway entitlements spending.