The Trump administration is mulling a proposal that would penalize immigrants who accept public benefits, including tax credits, and could be used to deny them legal residency, The Washington Post reports.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) proposal would expand the parameters used to grant citizenship, such as Earned Income Tax Credit, health insurance subsidies and other benefits.
If approved, the policy would be a major barrier to Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients who apply for full legal residency, the Post reports.
"The administration is committed to enforcing existing immigration law, which is clearly intended to protect the American taxpayer by ensuring that foreign nationals seeking to enter or remain in the U.S. are self-sufficient," DHS spokeswoman Katie Waldman told the Post in a statement.
So if approved, immigrants with children would be considered a "public charge" on par with accepting welfare.
"DHS will consider whether the alien being a dependent or having dependents ... makes it more or less likely that the alien will become a public charge," the proposal reads.
Immigration advocates pan the proposal for forcing immigrants into a Sophie's choice of having to choose between public assistance vs. jeopardizing their chances at citizenship.
"It's striking that … the administration seems to be considering a version that goes even further, and they're actively considering whether to use this rule to create new grounds for deporting legal immigrants," Mark Greenberg, a senior fellow at the Migration Policy Institute, told the Post.
The proposal awaits final approval from DHS secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, the Post reports.
If approved, the changes would take effect this calendar year.
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