Proposed Immigration Rule Could Bar Immigrants With Disabilities and Illnesses From Entering U.S.


A new proposal from the Trump administration would make it harder for immigrants to obtain visas or permanent residency if they are considered more likely to use public services including disability services and government health insurance.

The proposed rules come from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, part of the Department of Homeland Security. The proposal refers to immigrants who would need services as “public charges,” and includes those with health conditions, mental illnesses and disabilities. An immigrant would also be considered a public charge if they would need access to other social services like food assistance or other assistance programs.

The proposed rule would change the definition of a public charge effectively changing how the U.S. handles immigration, Matthew Lopas, health policy attorney at the National Immigration Law Center, told The Mighty.

Before the proposal, “public charges” were defined as immigrants who were largely dependent on the government for support. Only two situations would make someone a public charge: if they needed cash assistance or long-term institutional support like a nursing home. It did not include immigrants who use Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program or other health services, except for long-term care facilities such as nursing homes. Other types of non-cash assistance include WIC or other nutritional services.

According to a draft of the proposed policy, having a condition is not necessarily enough to deny a visa or residency, but lack of private insurance or other means to pay for medical care could lead to a denial. Essentially, immigrants need to be “self-sufficient” and able to work, regardless of health or disability.

“The policy that this administration is proposing could completely change the way we view immigration and turn it away from something that’s about family reunification and giving people an opportunity to come to this country and thrive and making it solely about what somebody has in their wallet,” Lopas said.

Lopas added that, as of now, disability on its own isn’t a way to bar someone from entering the country or becoming a permanent residence. However, under this proposal, many people with disabilities would be barred “de facto” since they wouldn’t be able to use government assistance or programs. Disability and health conditions can be expensive. In 2013, 30 percent of Americans who received government assistance based on income were people with disabilities, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Photo via Getty Images/leekris


Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.


Related to Disability

33 Truths Moms of Kids With Disabilities Want You to Know

I parent two kids with disabilities, and I’m often invited to speak to groups about “what it is like.” I usually begin by asking the audience to give me words or phrases they think describe my life, and I write them down for the audience to see. Usually these words include: hard, exhausting, messy, tiring, [...]

What I Wish People Knew About Disability and Kids Like Mine

Life promises surprises. I for one, am grateful for that fact. Some surprises can be wonderful and make you squeal with delight. Others can present difficulty and make you pause and bolster yourself up so that you can take the next step forward. Each type of surprise can make you grow. Each type of surprise [...]
Classroom

Students with Disabilities Are More Likely to Be Restrained or Arrested at School

Students with disabilities are far more likely to be restrained or secluded at school than other students, according to new data from the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR). Virtually all public schools and districts were surveyed during the 2015 to 2016 school year. Over 50 million students were included, with 14 [...]
Open door to the bathroom.

My Disability Doesn't Erase My Right to Privacy

Privacy is something most people take for granted. It’s an assumed right, one that seems unassailable. A given. After all, most folks have no reason to doubt that they can use the bathroom without someone monitoring them, make their own life decisions without someone trying to influence their choices, and do something as simple as [...]