"President Trump has delivered on his promise to the American people to enforce long-standing immigration law by defining the public charge inadmissibility ground that has been on the books for years".
Acting Director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Ken Cuccinelli is under fresh fire on Tuesday after telling NPR in an interview that the famous words engraved on the U.S. Statue of Liberty-based on the poem by Emma Lazarus-should be re-cast with a qualifier when it comes to the kinds of people arriving at the nation's shores seeking refuge or welcome. "A poor person can be prepared to be self sufficient", he said. "So let's not look at that as the be-all, end-all, and it's not the deciding factor". And they voiced concern the rules give officials too much authority to decide whether someone is likely to need public assistance in the future. "Can't people learn how to speak English when they get here?" Public health and social service providers report that immigrants are anxious about seeking medical and housing aid for themselves and their children, who may be USA citizens. In fact, many are ineligible for public benefits due to their immigration status.
According to the regulations, foreign citizens who apply to immigrate to the US will be considered "public burden" if they failed to meet the prescribed income standards or receive public benefits for more than one year in any three years in the country.
"Without a single change in the law by Congress, the Trump public charge rules mean many more USA citizens are being and will be denied the opportunity to live together in the US with their spouses, children and parents", said Ur Jaddou, a former Citizenship and Immigration Services chief counsel who is now director of the DHS Watch run by an immigrant advocacy group.
Proponents of the Trump administration's move say it protects American taxpayers' interests and promotes self-sufficiency.
Immigrant rights groups strongly criticized the changes, warning the rules would scare immigrants away from asking for needed help.
She said that her organisation would challenge the rules in court. Krikorian expects the rule to have "limited impact", because, in his view, "a lot of people seeking green cards are already dropping out of or not enrolling in welfare programs".
The Los Angeles-based National Immigration Law Center said it would file a lawsuit, calling the new rules an attempt to redefine the legal immigration system "in order to disenfranchise communities of color and favor the wealthy". "The Trump Administration can't blow its nose without the resistance judiciary saying he's not allowed to do it", says Krikorian.
Cuccinelli said the comments resulted in changes that "we think it made a better, stronger rule". "We, alongside our allies, intend to fight the cruel rule".
New York State Attorney-General Letitia James called it "patently un-American" and threatened a court case.
"If they don't have future prospects of being legal permanent residents without welfare, that will be counted against them", Cuccinelli said.
Cuccinelli's appearance behind the podium in the White House briefing room represented an increasingly unusual occurrence. The last televised press briefing by a White House press secretary, which traditionally had been held daily in other administrations, was in March.