Home / General / When we said “illegal immigrants” we meant “legal immigrants,” if they weren’t American-looking

When we said “illegal immigrants” we meant “legal immigrants,” if they weren’t American-looking


Trump administration immigration policy mastermind and PJ Goebbels cosplay contest runner-up Stephen Miller isn’t going to pretend any more that his policy is driven primarily by concerns illegal immigration, as opposed to immigration by people who don’t look like real Americans:

The Trump administration is expected to issue a proposal in coming weeks that would make it harder for legal immigrants to become citizens or get green cards if they have ever used a range of popular public welfare programs, including Obamacare, four sources with knowledge of the plan told NBC News.

The move, which would not need congressional approval, is part of White House senior adviser Stephen Miller’s plan to limit the number of migrants who obtain legal status in the U.S. each year.

Details of the rulemaking proposal are still being finalized, but based on a recent draft seen last week and described to NBC News, immigrants living legally in the U.S. who have ever used or whose household members have ever used Obamacare, children’s health insurance, food stamps and other benefits could be hindered from obtaining legal status in the U.S.

Immigration lawyers and advocates and public health researchers say it would be the biggest change to the legal immigration system in decades and estimate that more than 20 million immigrants could be affected. They say it would fall particularly hard on immigrants working jobs that don’t pay enough to support their families.

Many are like Louis Charles, a Haitian green-card holder seeking citizenship who, despite working up to 80 hours a week as a nursing assistant, has had to use public programs to support his disabled adult daughter.

Using some public benefits like Social Security Insurance has already hindered immigrants from obtaining legal status in the past, but the programs included in the recent draft plan could mean that immigrant households earning as much as 250 percent of the poverty level could be rejected.

Jon Chait:

Since the 19th century, immigration policy has discriminated against migrants who might become a “public charge.” But Trump plans to expand the definition of the term to include basic benefits for the working class, like health insurance. Almost nobody in the United States actually pays for their own insurance in a completely self-sufficient fashion. People who get insurance through their job are benefitting from a massive, costly tax deduction for employer-sponsored insurance. Those who get it through Medicare likewise enjoy a taxpayer-financed social benefit.

Programs like Obamacare and CHIP simply extend the same regimen of subsidies and risk pooling to the low-income population that have already been granted to the middle class. To define people getting insurance this way as “public charges” does violence to the concept. But it is also perfectly in keeping with the Randian ideology that has crept into Republican thought and never left, despite Trump’s ostensible populism. Low-income workers are to be reconceptualized as the leeching 47-percenters that Mitt Romney so despised.

Trump’s contribution to the party creed will be to infuse the top-down class war with a racial tinge. That this all proceeds from some fastidiousness about following the rules is a pretense nobody need bother entertaining anymore.

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