On Thursday May 16, 2019, President Trump announced his plan to create a fair, modern, and lawful system of immigration for the United States. According to President Trump “This proposal achieves two critical goals. First, it stops illegal immigration and fully secures the border. Second, it establishes a new legal immigration system that protects American wages, promotes American values, and attracts the best and brightest from all around the world.”
The plan not yet turned into legislation, would replace all current family and employment-based immigration preference categories with a system that awards points based primarily on age and education. The plan’s foundation is a shift toward a “merit” system very similar to those in place in Australia and Canada.
On Thursday May 23, 2019, President Trump signed a memorandum that seeks to enforce a 23-year old provision requiring sponsors of legal immigrants in the U.S. to reimburse the government for any social services such as Medicaid or welfare used by an immigrant. The Reimbursement provision was part of the 1996 Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRIRA) and Welfare Reform laws that were signed by Bill Clinton, the President at that time. Despite being cherished in federal law, the rule has not been enforced.
The law requires sponsors to sign a document saying that they will be responsible for an immigrant’s financial needs if the immigrant applies for public benefits and which requires the sponsor to reimburse the government for any benefits the immigrant uses. The provision also requires the sponsor’s financial resources to be taken into consideration when determining if an immigrant is eligible for welfare. Sponsors tend to be family members of immigrants coming to live permanently in the U.S. According to a fact sheet released by the White House, 58 percent of households headed by a non-citizen use at least one welfare program and half of households headed by a non-citizen include someone on Medicaid.
“To protect benefits for American citizens, immigrants must be financially self-sufficient,” President Trump said in an announcement of the plan. The move is meant to deter potential sponsors of immigrants. This change is part of a broader push by the Trump administration for a more merit-based immigration system. It might also discourage struggling legal immigrants from using public benefits.
On May 16, 2019, President Trump announced his immigration reform plan that would dramatically reshape the legal immigration system, putting a lot more emphasis on merit and skill-based immigration. The White House states this past memorandum from May 23, 2019, that would enforce reimbursing the U.S. government for public benefits used by immigrants, is part of that aim.