The Public Charge Law Makes Sense

The Quote Below—More Misinformation from the Media

“The United States is built on the backs and dreams of immigrants, people who left strife-filled homelands in the hope of a better life. It is the moral rationale that declares our collective claim to an American exceptionalism that has existed since the nation’s founding, despite periods when our actions have failed to align with our ideals.

“Sadly, the Trump administration now has chosen to hurl a firebomb into a hay barn with a callous interpretation of longstanding immigration rules that prevents immigrants from gaining admission, renewing visas or obtaining green cards if they are, ‘likely at any time to become a public charge.’

“Until now, the interpretation of ‘public charge’ in the Immigration and Nationality Act has leaned toward the spirit of the ‘Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses’ inscription on the Statue of Liberty. . . .

“The Trump administration’s interpretation is, instead, a harsh and misguided broadside assault on legal immigration in the guise of curbing illegal immigration. It seeks to use regulations to mount an end run around Congressional authority. Taken as a whole, it is rife with legal challenges and spells economic trouble for a nation that needs migrant labor.

“The argument, as the Trump administration has made it, is that poor immigrants are destined to be on the public dole as patrons of Medicaid, food stamps and other public assistance. This fallacy provides broad latitude for the government to reject anyone who is deemed at risk of becoming a ‘public charge’ based on arbitrary assessments of levels of income, employment, education and English proficiency.

“This is neither due process nor the spirit of a welcoming nation.” – Trump’s ‘Public Charge’ on Immigrants Diminishes the American Spirit, Editorial, Dallas Morning News, 8/17/20 [Link]

Fact Check of Quote Above:  The United States was built initially by settlers, people who tamed a wilderness and created a new society. Immigrants came later and made contributions. Immigration is a part of America’s heritage, but it is hardly the most essential and important thing about our country. It is certainly not our “moral rationale” or something that makes us “exceptional.”

America certainly has many good and special qualities, but some current claims of exceptionalism are disturbing to many thinking Americans. They suggest a national arrogance which sees us as being unaffected by the limitations of lesser countries. One glaring example is the way that some immigration advocates seem to think that we can save virtually all of the poor and downtrodden people of the world by inviting them to move here.

These advocates typically soar away from reality on feel-good sentimentality about “huddled masses” of immigrants. If they could take a break from their hubris they might reflect that America today is in no position be the world’s savior. Our national debt is astronomical; our middle class is shrinking; our infrastructure is overstressed; and our society is increasingly divided into hostile camps.

If we are going to accept immigrants, it is simple common sense that we try to select people who will contribute to our society rather than take from it. Unfortunately, immigrant households are much more likely to receive welfare than native-born households. The public charge law, which has been in effect for one hundred years, was supposed to prevent immigrants from becoming dependent on public assistance, but it’s seldom been enforced in recent times.

The Trump Administration is trying to put teeth into the law, and last January the Supreme Court upheld its action. There is nothing at all “arbitrary” about selecting immigrants on the basis of “levels of income, employment, education and English proficiency.” Quite reasonably, these are good indicators of success.

Simply to survive as a country, America must have immigration policies that foremost serve the interests of Americans. The huddled masses of our citizens have a right to a “better life” before we try to provide it to others.


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