Washington, D.C. – Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Ron Wyden, D-Ore., today condemned a decision by the Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals to allow the Trump administration’s Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to deny visas and green cards to certain immigrants who use key safety net programs, including Medicaid and SNAP.
“It is outrageous and cruel to impose a wealth test on immigrants in the middle of the pandemic,” Wyden said. “Workers across the country are already struggling to get by – that means struggling to afford health care, housing, and food for their families. But instead of helping families deal with this crisis, Trump is pursuing yet another discriminatory, ill-conceived policy to target immigrant communities, who disproportionately serve as essential and frontline workers helping to fight this pandemic.”
Earlier in his term, Trump proposed a rule that would put certain legally present immigrants at risk of not receiving a visa or green card if they used (or were determined likely to use) a broader set of public benefits, such as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Federal Public Housing and Section 8 Assistance and Medicaid (with exceptions). The rule was finalized in 2019, and has had the effect of deterring immigrants and their families from accessing needed health care and nutrition supports. Since then, litigation has intermittently blocked the administration from moving forward with the policy.
Last week, a panel of Second Circuit judges stayed an injunction on the rule’s implementation in New York, Vermont and Connecticut. The ruling allows DHS to implement the rule nationwide, as the litigation proceeds.