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HIAS Statement on Proposed Changes to Green Card Eligibility

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Silver Spring, Md.--This week the Trump administration proposed new rules that would punish immigrants who legally access health, housing, or nutrition programs. Many of these immigrants would no longer be eligible for green cards, even if they are the spouse, parent, or child of a U.S. citizen.

Some immigrants are already barred from green cards for receiving public support, but this new rule would also bar immigrants who use the types of emergency assistance that are often the sole safety net for working immigrant families. For decades immigrant families have been able to seek health and nutrition help without fear. With this new rule, immigrants could be forced to choose between getting help for their families and their chance at a green card.

“HIAS has been welcoming immigrants and refugees to America since 1881. Nearly all started out poor, and worked countless hours at low wage, often dangerous jobs to ensure that their children have a chance at a future,” said Melanie Nezer, HIAS Senior Vice President for Public Affairs. “Most of us can think of instances in our own family histories when people have fallen on hard times, and it’s no different for immigrants today. Keeping immigrants from becoming permanent residents – the only path to citizenship – just because they get some help feeding their kids or paying for medicine is needlessly cruel and betrays our history as a nation of immigrants.”

The proposal is not final and will now go through a 60-day review and public comment process. The government said the new rule could affect about 382,000 people a year.

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