(TELESUR) – The United States President Donald Trump’s administration unveiled a sweeping rule Monday that would limit legal immigration by denying visas and permanent residency to hundreds of thousands of people for receiving public benefits such as welfare, food stamps, public housing or Medicaid.
The long-anticipated rule, pushed by Trump’s leading aide on immigration Stephen Miller, will take effect Oct. 15 and would reject applicants for temporary or permanent visas for failing to meet income standards or for receiving public assistance.
Immediately after the rule was announced, the National Immigration Law Center (NILC) said it would file a lawsuit to stop it from taking effect. The group’s executive director Marielena Hincapie said the rule was racially motivated.
“This latest racially-motivated policy is a painful reminder that behind [President] Donald Trump’s bluster, bureaucrats like [top adviser] Stephen Miller will stop at nothing to attack immigrants and destroy our legal immigration system,” Hincapie said in a statement. “It will have a dire humanitarian impact, forcing some families to forego critical life-saving healthcare and nutrition. The damage will be felt for decades to come.”
The 837-page rule could be the most drastic of all the Trump administration’s policies targeting the legal immigration system, experts have said. Advocates for immigrants have criticized the plan as an effort to cut legal immigration without going through Congress to change U.S. law.
The new rule is derived from the Immigration Act of 1882, which allows the U.S. government to deny a visa to anyone likely to become a “public charge.”
Most immigrants are ineligible for the major aid programs until they qualify for green cards, which grant legal permanent residence status. However, the new rule announced in the Federal Register by the Department of Homeland Security expands the definition of a public charge and stands to disqualify more people.