Washington D.C., Aug 13, 2019 / 14:01 pm
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has voiced opposition to a new “public charge” policy that could deny visas and green cards to immigrants who use, or are deemed likely to use, various public welfare programs such as food stamps, Medicaid, or housing assistance.
The rule was announced on August 12 and is expected to be formalized on Wednesday when it is published in the Federal Register.
“Ultimately, we believe that this rule is in tension with the dignity of the person and the common good that all of us are called to support,” said Bishops Joe S. Vasquez of Austin and Frank J. Dewane of Venice (FL) in a statement released by the USCCB website Tuesday.
Vasquez is the chair of the USCCB Committee on Migration, and Dewane leads the USCCB Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development.
The rule is set to go into effect on October 15, and will not penalize immigrants applying for green cards or visas public benefit previously used. The penalties will only be applied to people who used public assistance after that date.
Ken Cuccinelli, the acting director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, explained Monday that anyone who applying for either legal status or a green card must show that they will not be a “public charge.”
“Our rule generally prevents aliens who are likely to become a public charge from coming to the United States or remaining here in getting a green card,” said Cuccinelli on Monday during a briefing.
“‘Public charge’ is now defined in a way that ensures the law is meaningfully enforced. Those who are subject to it are self-sufficient under the rule of public charge is now defined as an individual who receives one or more designated public benefits for more than 12 months,” he said.