Ken Cuccinelli, director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, issued a defense on Monday of the Trump administration’s new “public charge” rule designed to reduce the immigrants to the United States relying on government welfare programs.
Cuccinelli said the rule would promote immigrant “success” in the country, giving preference to those who could prove their ability to reach economic independence.
“Throughout our history, self-reliance has been a core principle of America,” Cuccinelli said. “The virtues of perseverance, hard work, self-sufficiency laid the foundation of our nation.”
Cuccinelli gave a press briefing at the White House on Monday and spoke about his Italian grandfather sponsoring his cousins to come to America, helping them learn English, and ensuring their livelihood in the U.S.
“They never expected the government to do it for them,” Cuccinelli said. “The same hardworking spirit shared by countless immigrants who have made the U.S. their home is central to our American identity.”
The new rule would penalize legal immigrants seeking citizenship living under one or more government welfare programs for more than 12 months. He clarified that it would not apply to pregnant women and children.
The rule would note if immigrants receive federal, state, and local welfare programs, including food stamps, some forms of Medicaid, and subsidized housing.
“President Trump’s administration is reinforcing the ideals of self-sufficiency and personal responsibility,” Cuccinelli said.
The rule takes effect on October 15, 2019.
Cuccinelli did not specify the expected savings, although it could save $57 billion a year, according to some estimates.
Recent research by the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) showed that about 63 percent of noncitizen households in the United States use at least one form of taxpayer-funded welfare.
“Throughout our history, Americans and legal immigrants have pulled themselves up by their bootstraps to pursue their dreams and the opportunity of this great nation,” Cuccinelli said, adding, “As President Trump delivers on his promise to uphold the rule of law, this administration is promoting our shared history and encouraging the core values needed to make the American dream a reality.”