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Getty Images.

Trump’s administration may make it harder for immigrants to obtain permanent residency if they have received food assistance or other public benefits, Reuters’ Yeganeh Torbati exclusively reports citing a draft proposal.

The reasoning in the draft, per Torbati: “Non-citizens who receive public benefits are not self-sufficient and are relying on the U.S. government…An alien’s receipt of public benefits comes at taxpayer expense.”

Quick catch up: USCIS published its intent in December of 2017 to issue a notice of proposed rule-making changes to the definition of a "public charge." This means someone in the U.S. who is determined "likely to become primarily dependent on the government for subsistence," and who may be denied admission to the U.S. under the Immigration Nationality Act.

This “could sharply restrict legal immigration.”
Yeganeh Torbati
  • A USCIS official told Axios “this proposed rule change would define the term ‘public charge’ and would outline DHS public charge considerations" for inadmissibility.
  • There is a need to change the public charge definition, per USCIS: "To ensure that foreign nationals coming to the United States or adjusting status to permanent residence...have adequate means of support while in the United States, and that foreign nationals do not become dependent on public benefits for support."
  • The benefits laid out in the draft would include some non-cash benefits, such as whether immigrants have enrolled children in a government pre-school program and whether they’ve received subsidies for utility bills or health insurance premiums.

What we're told: DHS Acting Press Secretary Tyler Houlton told Axios: “Any potential changes to the rule would be in keeping with the letter and spirit of the law – as well as the reasonable expectations of the American people for the government to be good stewards of taxpayer funds.” The Department of Homeland Security would not confirm a pre-decisional proposal.

Where it stands: The USCIS official told Axios the rule is expected to be published this calendar year. “But with any rule-making change, no decision is final until the rule-making process is completed," the official said.

Go deeper

Updated 24 mins ago - Health

Texas to end all coronavirus restrictions

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott speaking at the White House in December 2020. Photo: Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Texas will end its coronavirus restrictions next week with an upcoming executive order, Gov. Greg Abbot (R) announced Tuesday during a press conference in Lubbock.

Why it matters: After Abbott signs the new order, which rescinds previous orders, all businesses can open to 100% capacity and the statewide mask mandate will be over, though large parts of the state will remain under mask local ordinances.

Senate confirms Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo as commerce secretary

Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo (D). Photo: David L. Ryan/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

The Senate voted 84-15 on Tuesday to confirm Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo to lead the Commerce Department.

Why it matters: The agency promotes U.S. industry, oversees the Census Bureau, plays a key role in the government's study of climate change through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and evaluates emerging technology through the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

Updated 50 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Health: CDC director warns "now is not the time" to lift COVID restrictions — Exclusive: Teenagers' mental health claims doubled last spring.
  2. Axios-Ipsos poll: Americans' hopes rise after a year of COVID
  3. Vaccine: J&J CEO "absolutely" confident in vaccine distribution goals — Vaccine hesitancy is shrinking.
  4. World: China and Russia vaccinate the world, for now.
  5. Energy: Global carbon emissions rebound to pre-COVID levels.
  6. Local: Florida gets more good vaccine newsMinnesota's hunger problem grows amid pandemic — Denver's fitness industry eyes a pandemic recovery.