This would be a particularly bad time for certain legal immigrants to apply for a green card or a visa or visa extension in Fresno, California — or in Columbus, Ohio, or El Paso, Texas, among other places.
The Trump administration issued a new rule yesterday that would allow the U.S. to reject visa and green-card applications on the basis of the applicant’s income.
The 837-page document, titled “Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds,” outlines the circumstances under which an immigrant applying for admission or adjustment of status may be denied if he or she is likely to become a “public charge.” The rule, issued by the Department of Homeland Security, includes a requirement that anyone seeking a change of status or an extension of a visa must be able to demonstrate that since obtaining their current status he or she has not “received public benefits over the designated threshold.” This includes such items as food stamps, public health care, and subsidized housing.
Analyzing data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2017 American Community Survey, 24/7 Wall St. has identified the nine major U.S. cities with poverty rates above 25% for foreign-born non-citizens — compared with an average rate of 20.4% overall for that group. (The equivalent rate for native-born citizens is 13.1%.)
Fresno, in the heart of California’s immigrant-filled Central Valley farm country, has the highest poverty rate for the affected group at 34.2%. Columbus is close behind at 32.4%, followed by El Paso at 30.8%. The other six cities with rates above 25% are, in descending order, Tucson, Arizona (30.5%), Philadelphia (30.2%), Houston (26.8%), Indianapolis (25.8%), Phoenix (25.4%), and Portland, Oregon (25.3%). These cities, however, are not located in the states with the biggest immigrant populations. These are the states with the largest immigrant populations.CityPoverty Rate for Foreign-Born Non-CitizensFresno, CA34.2%Columbus, OH32.4%El Paso, TX30.8%Tucson, AZ30.5%Philadelphia, PA30.2%Houston, TX26.8%Indianapolis, IN25.8%Phoenix, AZ25.4%Portland, OR25.3%
The new policy will encourage “self-reliance and self-sufficiency for those seeking to come to or stay in the United States,” according to Ken Cuccinelli, acting director of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services agency, in a statement from the White House briefing room.
New York State Attorney General Letitia James says she plans to sue to block the rule. Other legal challenges are expected.
The change, which critics say favors wealthier immigrants for green card and citizenship, is viewed as part of a bigger effort to limit immigration. Even though between 2007 and 2016, the number of unauthorized immigrants in 20 major U.S. metropolitan areas dropped from 7.7 million to 6.5 million, and despite recent rise in anti-immigration sentiment, the United States continues to attract immigrants and remains a vast melting pot — these are the cities with the most unauthorized immigrants.
By Colman Andrews