US to toughen pathway to citizenship for immigrants using benefits



WASHINGTON (dpa)- The White House is tightening rules in order to limit the pathway towards citizenship for immigrants who rely extensively on public benefits, such as food stamps, as part of a push by the administration towards a more merit-based system.
The administration has already taken steps to crack down on illegal immigration, including by stepping up measures at the southern border and entering into new deals with Mexico and Guatemala to have those countries clamp down within their territory, to reduce north-bound flows.




Ken Cuccinelli, the acting director of the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), made the announcement on Monday, stressing that no one factor would cut an immigrant off from a pathway to citizenship but that the "totality of circumstances" would be taken into account.
Cuccinelli said the new rules are meant to ensure that immigrants getting a so-called green card, a permanent residency permit, can "stand on their own two feet."
He rejected the idea that the administration was weeding out all but wealthy or well-educated immigrants. "A poor person can be self-sufficient," he said, when pressed by reporters.
The new rules would affect people taking part in food assistance programmes, health-care benefits and housing assistance.
Speaking to reporters at the White House, the USCIS chief insisted that the US will continue to take in large number of immigrants every year, saying that about 1 million people enter annually on average.
Trump's immigration policies have been divisive and he has taken heat from progressives, in particular over the separation of families at the southern border and language which described undocumented migration as an "invasion."
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Monday, August 12th 2019
dpa
           


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