Politics & Policy

The Corner

A Draft Regulation on Welfare-Dependent Immigrants

Trump plans to better enforce the federal law saying that immigrants can’t come — and can’t get permanent residency or a new visa status if they’re already here — if they’re likely to become a “public charge.” Vox has gotten its hands on a draft of the regulation, and as the publication’s Dara Lind summarizes it:

Right now, the government can only consider use of cash benefits, like Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, in “public charge” determinations. The Trump administration wants to give officials the power to look at use of other benefits as well, including:

‐ some “educational benefits,” including use of Head Start for children

‐ Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP)

‐ use of any subsidies, or purchase of subsidized insurance, under the Affordable Care Act

‐ food stamps

‐ Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) assistance

‐ Housing benefits, like Section 8

‐ Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)

‐ transit vouchers

Using any of these for more than six months in the last two years (before applying for a different visa or a green card) would be considered a “heavily weighted” strike against the immigrant. (That strike could be canceled out if an immigrant was making more than 250 percent of the federal poverty level when applying for the new visa or green card — which, for a family of 4 in 2017, was $60,750.)

We should not take pleasure in yanking benefits away from poor families, but this is a good policy and consistent with the law. We can let into this country only a fraction of the people who would like to come, and many of those who can’t come are left behind in poverty-wracked nations. There is no reason the people who win this lottery — sometimes a literal lottery — should also get taxpayer support, reducing the resources available to our own citizens. It is entirely reasonable for us to insist that people who come here support themselves, and to refuse to grant permanent residency if they fall into government dependency.

As Milton Friedman noted two decades ago, the combination of generous welfare and generous immigration is inherently problematic. The solution written into federal law is to allow a fair amount of immigration and a fair amount of welfare spending — but to keep out immigrants who are likely to use welfare. That is a workable arrangement and one we should enforce better than we do today, given the high rates of welfare use among immigrants, not to mention the fact that the cash benefits we currently consider in “public charge” determinations are a tiny proportion of the overall welfare state.

Most Popular

Politics & Policy

Students’ Anti-Gun Views

Are children innocents or are they leaders? Are teenagers fully autonomous decision-makers, or are they lumps of mental clay, still being molded by unfolding brain development? The Left seems to have a particularly hard time deciding these days. Take, for example, the high-school students from Parkland, ... Read More
Elections

Romney Is a Misfit for America

Mitt’s back. The former governor of Massachusetts and occasional native son of Michigan has a new persona: Mr. Utah. He’s going to bring Utah conservatism to the whole Republican party and to the country at large. Wholesome, efficient, industrious, faithful. “Utah has a lot to teach the politicians in ... Read More
Law & the Courts

What the Second Amendment Means Today

The horrifying school massacre in Parkland, Fla., has prompted another national debate about guns. Unfortunately, it seems that these conversations are never terribly constructive — they are too often dominated by screeching extremists on both sides of the aisle and armchair pundits who offer sweeping opinions ... Read More
U.S.

Fire the FBI Chief

American government is supposed to look and sound like George Washington. What it actually looks and sounds like is Henry Hill from Goodfellas: bad suit, hand out, intoning the eternal mantra: “F*** you, pay me.” American government mostly works by interposition, standing between us, the free people at ... Read More
Film & TV

Black Panther’s Circle of Hype

The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) first infantilizes its audience, then banalizes it, and, finally, controls it through marketing. This commercial strategy, geared toward adolescents of all ages, resembles the Democratic party’s political manipulation of black Americans, targeting that audience through its ... Read More