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Trump’s ‘wealth test’ begins for US immigrants

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption The Statue of Liberty has long served as a symbol of US immigration policy A controversial new policy that denies legal residency to migrants who have received government assistance has come into effect in the US.The policy, termed the “public charge rule” by proponents and a “wealth test” by…

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The Statue of Liberty has long served as a symbol of US immigration policy

A controversial new policy that denies legal residency to migrants who have received government assistance has come into effect in the US.The policy, termed the “public charge rule” by proponents and a “wealth test” by critics, was cleared by the Supreme Court last week.It means that many legal immigrants who previously had qualified for residency no longer would, studies show.Republicans and President Donald Trump argue the rule protects US taxpayers.What’s changed?The policy, which was first announced in August but delayed until now by federal courts, adds restrictions to the “public charge” rule that immigration agents consult when considering individual cases for green cards, which grant permanent US residency.The vaguely-defined public charge rule has been in place for over 100 years, and says that migrants who are likely to require extensive government welfare should not be admitted.But under the new rules, some recipients of “non-cash” benefits including particular types of healthcare assistance, food aid and housing subsidies can also be turned down – on the basis that they are “a public charge”.The update also raises the salary required for a family of four from $32,000 (£25,000) per year to $60,000 (£46,000).The policy applies to anyone who received government welfare for 12 months at any point in the past 36 months.The rule does not apply to refugees, asylum-seekers, or victims of crimes who are aiding US investigators.It also exempts certain benefits from consideration by immigration agents – including emergency medical assistance, school lunch subsidies, disaster relief and government healthcare (Medicaid) for those under 21 years old.Nonetheless, almost two-thirds of migrants who qualified for legal US
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