Sept. 22 (UPI) -- The Trump administration on Saturday proposed a rule that immigrants who are in the United States legally, as well as those wanting to come to the country, may be denied visas or green cards if they have ever used public assistance. Current U.S. immigration laws limit those who are likely to be dependent on financial aid. That ruling, known as a "public charge," began in the 1800s as a way to deny immigrants entry to the United States if they were likely to become a drain on the economy.
The proposal announced Saturday by the Department of Homeland Security would deny immigrants who have ever used Section 8 housing vouchers, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and other "non-cash" forms of public assistance such as Medicaid Part D.
The proposed rule would also make nonimmigrants who receive or are likely to receive public assistance ineligible for change of status and extension of stay.
Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said the department is welcoming public comment on the proposal.
"This proposed rule will implement a law passed by Congress intended to promote immigrant self-sufficiency and protect finite resources by ensuring that they are not likely to become burdens on American taxpayers," Nielsen said in a statement.
Marielena Hincapie of the National Immigration Law Center said how a person contributes to their community, not the contents of their wallet, should be what matters the most.
"This proposed rule does the opposite, and makes clear that the Trump administration continues to prioritize money over family unity by ensuring that only the wealthiest can afford to build a future in this country," Hincapie said.
The proposal will publish in the Federal Register in coming weeks and then trigger a 60-day public comment period.