President Donald Trump has announced Wednesday night in a campaign-style rally in Grand Rapids, Iowa that he will immediately ask Congress to pass legislation banning immigrants who have entered the U.S. from receiving welfare benefits for five years upon arrival.
Trump said: “The time has come for new immigration rules that say…those seeking immigration into our country must be able to support themselves financially and should not use welfare for a period of at least five years.”
Trump also added in his speech: “Those entering our country should embrace our values and love our people.”
Trump’s proposal would take off and build on the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 which gives permission to federal authorities to deport immigrants who become public dependents within five years of their arrival to the U.S. Many provisions in the law were rolled back during the administrations of George W. Bush and Barack Obama but Trump’s latest suggestion would make more categories of federal benefits off-limits to new immigrants.
At present, states enjoy the authority and discretion to determine immigrants’ eligibility for local public assistance programs. Trump’s idea would also block the admission to the country of people who have the potential to become so-called “public charges”, or those individuals likely to seek public assistance.
Trump’s announcement indicate that he wants his proposal turned into law. The Center for Immigration Studies in a study found that 51 percent of households headed by an immigrant are using some form of public assistance, compared to 30 percent among non-immigrant families.
Trump has consistently pushed for tougher immigration policies since the start of his presidential campaign all the way to his policies as President. He is also seeking to fulfill a strong campaign promise of building a wall on the country’s border with Mexico to prevent the entry of illegal immigrants, and gave assurances that “the wall will be built.”