NEW YORK – Nutrition and immigrant advocates are condemning a new rule denying green cards to immigrants who have received or might receive needs-based public assistance.
The rule, issued Monday, would force immigrants in families with citizens and legal permanent residents to choose between splitting their family up or removing the entire family from the country. According to Joel Berg, CEO of Hunger Free America, that puts everything from food assistance to Medicaid and housing support out of reach.
“It’s an impossible choice. It’s cruel,” Berg said. “It’s counterproductive because it’s going to hurt our economy and hurt the ability of people to become economically self-sufficient.”
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services said the rule allows the government to insist that immigrants who come to the country will not be a drain on society. But Berg pointed out immigrants pay payroll taxes, sales tax, real estate taxes and even income taxes, often covering benefits only available to citizens.
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“They contribute far more to society overall than they ever take out,” he said. “This has nothing to do with budget savings. This has everything to do with attacking people because they represent a different language or a different skin color.”
He added that, on average, immigrants who achieve citizenship have lower poverty rates and higher incomes than native-born Americans.
Berg said he believes the new rule will have a negative impact on the nation’s economy by eliminating an important pool of workers.
“People impacted by this are some of the hardest working people in the country in the lowest paid, most dangerous, vital jobs such as looking after our kids and preparing our food,” he said.
Organizations opposed to the new rule have vowed to challenge it in court.