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Use of public benefits could put a visa or green card at risk

Those wishing to enter Arizona or immigrants already residing in the country legally could experience trouble getting visas or green cards if they collect public benefits. The Trump administration has put forward a new rule that would alter an existing law that already curtailed the ability of immigrants to get documentation to live in the country if they had received cash benefits. After the public comment period, the proposed rule could expand the disqualifying benefits to include food assistance, Section 8 housing vouchers, Medicaid or the Medicare Part D low-income subsidy.

The concept of preventing immigrants from collecting welfare emerged in the 19th century. Known as the public charge rule, it was designed to turn away immigrants who might drain public funds. A representative from the National Immigration Law Center described the currently proposed restrictions as a way to favor wealthy immigrants and disrupt attempts by families of limited economic means to unite with relatives.

A spokesperson from the Department of Homeland Security said that disqualifying benefits are those meant to help low-income people meet their basic living needs. The proposed rule would bar people from green cards or visas if they individually collected benefits valued at $1,821 for the year.

Due to the government's increasingly strong position against immigration, many people are uncertain how to apply for a visa or green card. However, an attorney could inform a client about the current state of U.S. immigration law. Legal counsel could evaluate the person's chances of achieving a goal like bringing a relative into the country or pursuing citizenship. In addition to preparing paperwork, an attorney could accompany a person to meetings with immigration officials and strive to promote their position.

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