Trump Rule Targets Legal Immigrants Who Rely on Food Stamps and Other Aid

WASHINGTON — The Trump administration will penalize legal immigrants who rely on public programs, such as food stamps and government-subsidized housing, as part of a sweeping new policy to slow legal immigration into the United States and reduce the number of immigrants who are granted permanent legal status.

The move will have the greatest impact on poor immigrants who are living in the country legally and are receiving public benefits from the government, forcing them to make a choice between accepting financial help and living and working in the country legally. It will probably not affect immigrants who already have green cards.

The United States wants immigrants who can support themselves, according to the rule, not those who “depend on public resources to meet their needs,” according to the new rule.

The regulation, which is scheduled to go into effect in 60 days, will provide the Trump administration a powerful new tool to narrow the demographic of people who come to live and work in the country.

Immigration advocates have pledged to sue the administration in an attempt to block the new regulation from going into effect. Tens of thousands of people opposed the rule in a public comment period over the past several months.

The regulation, also known as the public charge rule, was published in the federal register Monday morning with the following acknowledgment: “While some commenters provided support for the rule, the vast majority of commenters opposed the rule.”

The rule has been the top priority of Stephen Miller, the architect of President Trump’s immigration agenda, who views it as the most significant change to regulations that had encouraged migrants to come to the United States.

Mr. Miller has repeatedly pushed administration officials to finish the rule, at one point telling colleagues that he wanted them to work on nothing other than the public charge rule until it was completed.

Some officials, including L. Francis Cissna, the former director of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, had resisted the rush to finish the rule, drafts of which were several hundred pages long and very complicated.

But Mr. Cissna was forced out of his position earlier this year and replaced by Kenneth T. Cuccinelli II, a former attorney general in Virginia and an immigration hard-liner who shares Mr. Miller’s view that immigrants are a drain on taxpayer dollars.

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