- More than 5,300 Mexican nationals were denied visas between Oct. 1 and July 29 because they were poor and considered to be “public charges” dependent on the US government for support, according to data obtained by POLITICO.
- The Trump administration released a proposed rule in October that would bar immigrants from obtaining a green card or seeking a visa renewal if they had received government benefits, or if they would likely need them in the future.
- That regulation is expected to be finalised in the coming days.
- Over the past year, more and more immigrants, particularly from Mexico, who hope to move the US are being denied due to public charge determinations.
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The State Department denied 5,343 immigrant visa applications for Mexican nationals between Oct. 1 and July 29 because they were poor and, therefore, could be “public charges” dependent on the US government for support, according to data obtained by POLITICO.
That number compares to just seven applicants from Mexico who were denied in fiscal year 2016, President Barack Obama’s last full year in the White House.
The whopping increase in public charge denials comes after the State Department last year gave US consular officers more discretion to reject visas if they believed that person could become a public charge and require public welfare benefits. In October, the Trump administration officially released a proposed public charge rule that would bar immigrants from obtaining a green card or seeking a visa renewal if they had received government benefits, like Medicaid, food stamps, or Section 8 housing vouchers, or if they would likely need them in the future.
As noted by POLITICO, that regulation is expected to be finalised in the coming days.
Over the past year, more and more immigrants, particularly from Mexico, who hope to come to the US are being denied due to these public charge determinations.
That was the case for 33-year-old Arturo Balbino, a Mexican national who had illegally entered the US 14 years ago and worked as a construction worker in Texas. Balbino applied for a spousal visa at the American consulate in Ciudad Juarez in March, believing his chances were strong because he had a wife and children who are US citizens, as well as a father-in-law who pledged to financially support him if necessary, he told Reuters in April.
Instead, his application was denied by the consular officer on the grounds that he could become a drain on US taxpayers by requiring government financial assistance, per documents reviewed by Reuters.
“At times I want to think that everything will be ok and I’ll be able to be with my family again,” Balbino said. “It’s very difficult to think that I won’t be able to return to watch my children grow up.”
Several immigration lawyers told POLITICO that many of their Mexican clients, some of whom had lived in the US for years but are undocumented, have found themselves stranded in Mexico after being denied immigrant visas as a result of public charge.
In total, 12,179 visa applications from people across the world have been rejected due to public charge in the past year, per the preliminary data obtained by POLITICO, compared to 1,033 people in fiscal year 2016.
POLITICO noted that applicants from countries including India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Haiti, and the Dominican Republic also saw major increases in denials due to concerns they would be a public charge and rely on government benefits.
As noted in a policy brief by the Migration Policy Institute, the Department of Homeland Security estimated that around 382,000 people within the US seeking a green card each year could be affected by public charge rules. The Institute found that another 559,000 people living abroad could be impacted when applying for visas abroad.
“It is imposing a tougher standard for working-class people,” Charles Wheeler, a director with the pro-migrant Catholic Legal Immigration Network, told POLITICO.
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