State Dept. Rejects More Migrants as Likely ‘Public Charge’

Illegal immigrants line up for work permits

The Department of State is denying immigration requests by a growing number of poor or older foreigners because they are likely to need taxpayers’ charity and aid, according to agency data.

In the ten months up to July 29, 12,179 people overseas were denied visas to become immigrants because they may impose a “public charge” burden on taxpayers. That number is on track to exceed the 12,973 denials in all of fiscal 2018, according to an article in Politico.

The “public charge” denial rate rose slowly in 2019, but it is still very low. The public charge denial rate was only 2.4 percent of roughly 550,000 requests in 2018, slightly up from 0.17 percent of roughly 625,000 requests in 2016.

Overall, roughly one million people are allowed to become legal immigrants each year. Half of them are living outside the United States, so they apply for residency visas at the Department of State. The other half are living in the United States, so they apply for “Adjustment of Status” to the Department of Homeland Security. The one million total is huge because it is about one new legal immigrant for every four Americans who turn 18.

The enormous cost and risk of accepting one million immigrants each year requires the government to focus on applicants’ qualifications and their likelihood of earning enough salary to avoid reliance on welfare programs, says Jessica Vaughan, policy director at the Center for Immigration Studies. She said:

We can quibble about the number of people being rejected, but the point of the [public charge] reform is to screen out people who might have got in beforehand but should not have because they are likely to become a public charge [on Americans] … That is the point of the [pending public charge] regulation.

The government needs to ask which kinds of immigrants do we want to admit? Those who are loved by their [immigrant] family but are old and will need healthcare and lots of other services without contributing? Or should the government admit young persons who will enter the workforce, contribute in taxes, raise a family this is educated … and support themselves for generations?

The data’s release comes before the expected announcement of a public charge regulation for officials at the Department of Homeland Security.

Pro-migration groups, including the ACLU, investors at the lobbying group, and the Democrat Party, have loudly denounced the pending DHS public charge rules as “anti-immigrant” because they may sharply reduce immigrant approvals.

But the public charge regulation may have little impact on immigration numbers, warned Vaughan. Each rejected migrant will be replaced by the next applicant in line, she said, adding, “this is not going to make significant cuts in the level of immigration, but may make sure the immigrants we admit are likely to succeed here … It is hard to argue there is any downside to this.”

The government data provides a few clues about why applicants were denied.

The data shows many denials for people born near the United  States. For example, officials rejected 5,243 people from Mexico, 196 people from Honduras, 12o people from El Salvador, and 152 people from Guatemala. These denials likely included some elderly parents, but may also include former illegal migrants who used welfare, returned home, and then sought to enter the United States legally.

Some rejections may be based on applicants’ former use of welfare, said Vaughan. A 2015 report by Vaughan’s CIS noted:

In 2012, 51 percent of households headed by an immigrant (legal or illegal) reported that they used at least one welfare program during the year, compared to 30 percent of native households. Welfare in this study includes Medicaid and cash, food, and housing programs.

Welfare use is high for both new arrivals and well-established immigrants. Of households headed by immigrants who have been in the country for more than two decades, 48 percent access welfare.

No single program explains immigrants’ higher overall welfare use. For example, not counting subsidized school lunch, welfare use is still 46 percent for immigrants and 28 percent for natives. Not counting Medicaid, welfare use is 44 percent for immigrants and 26 percent for natives.

But the 2019 rejections are only a tiny share of applications from nearby countries. In 2017, for example, the state department allowed 171,952 Mexicans to become immigrants. So the rejection of 5,243 Mexicans in 2019 would represent only six percent of the 2017 approvals. The 2019 rejection of 120 people from El Salvador is only 1.24 percent of the 9,651 people accepted by the state department in 2017.

The 2019 data also showed a higher denial rate among people from distant poor countries.

Poor migrants — especially older migrants — would have great difficulty in avoiding poverty without getting taxpayer-provided pensions, welfare, medical support, housing, and other forms of aid. For example, 1,262 applicants from Bangladesh were denied in 2019, along with 739 people from Nepal, 563 people from Pakistan, 475 people from Yemen, and 570 people from the Philippines.

The 2019 rejection of 1,262 Bangladeshis is 82 percent of the 1,536 Bangladeshis admitted in 2017 by the state department. Nepal’s 2019 rejection rate was 13 percent of 5,533 admitted from Nepal in 2017.

DHS admitted many additional migrants from Bangladesh, Nepal, and other countries who were living in the United States in 2017.

The rejections may include a large share of parents seeking to join their adult children who recently received green cards, said Vaughan.

The steady inflow of parents is noteworthy, partly because they rarely are wealthy or productive enough to support themselves in old age, said Vaughan.

In fiscal 2017, for example, officials approved “Adjustment of Status” to 90,588 foreign parents living in the United States, legally or illegally, and provided immigration visas to another 58,001 parents living in their home countries. The 2017 inflow of 148,589 parents is sharply up from  80,000 in 2006. Vaughan said:

American senior citizens have been working their whole lives and paying taxes their whole lives – elderly immigrants have not contributed in the same way, and we are taking on an increased number of immigrants who are going to require a lot of taxpayer funded benefits and services without offsetting revenue  … We should be reducing the number of immigrants we’re admitting who turn out to be a burden on taxpayers.

Immigration Numbers:

Each year, roughly four million young Americans join the workforce after graduating from high school or university. This total includes roughly 800,000 Americans who graduate with skilled degrees in business or health care, engineering or science, software or statistics.

But the federal government then imports about 1.1 million legal immigrants and refreshes a resident population of roughly 1.5 million white-collar visa workers — including approximately 1 million H-1B workers and spouses — plus around 500,000 blue-collar visa workers.

The government also prints out more than one million work permits for foreigners, tolerates about eight million illegal workers, and does not punish companies for employing the hundreds of thousands of illegal migrants who sneak across the border or overstay their legal visas each year.

This policy of inflating the labor supply boosts economic growth for investors because it transfers wages to investors and ensures that employers do not have to compete for American workers by offering higher wages and better working conditions.

This policy of flooding the market with cheap, foreign, white-collar graduates and blue-collar labor also shifts enormous wealth from young employees towards older investors, even as it also widens wealth gaps, reduces high-tech investment, increases state and local tax burdens, and hurts children’s schools and college educations.

The cheap-labor economic strategy also pushes Americans away from high-tech careers and sidelines millions of marginalized Americans, including many who are now struggling with fentanyl addictions.

The labor policy also moves business investment and wealth from the heartland to the coastal cities, explodes rents and housing costsshrivels real estate values in the Midwest, and rewards investors for creating low-tech, labor-intensive workplaces.

“If there is a growing flood of foreign labor, the American middle class is no longer going to exist, and Republicans will not have a constituency,” said Hilarie Gamm, a co-cofounder of the American Workers Coalition.


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