Frontera Fund News Trump Watch

Leaked Executive Order Portrays Legal Residents as Abusers of Public Benefits

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Carmen Cornejo
Written by Carmen Cornejo

President Trump lies.

Just after the November 2016 election, he said that undocumented immigrants voted in the millions. Recently, he claimed that President Obama ordered a wiretap on Trump Tower before the elections. Without any shame. Both assertions have been declared false, and some journalists are not mincing words about the deceptions anymore.

His favorite lies and hyperboles are against immigrants, since these accusations energize his political base and his fans’ hate toward these hardworking individuals.

The narrative of the EO centers only on the cost and refuses to address the benefits.

His recent Executive Order (EO) draft on immigration, which has been leaked to the media, reflects the false notion that immigrants abuse public assistance.

Not only do undocumented immigrants need to worry about this characterization, but legal permanent residents (LPRs, or green card holders) do too, according to analysts.

The leaked draft of the EO states that immigrants are a drain on U.S. taxpayers. It proposes restricting the granting of green cards for low skilled, low-income immigrants and expanding the definition of “public charge,” increasing the range of federal programs unavailable to LPRs. The EO makes LPRs vulnerable to deportation if they use federal public benefits, and intends to activate provisions requiring immigrants’ sponsors to repay the benefits they received.

Watch this video.

The premise underlying this EO is a lie. A study by the National Academies of Sciences found that “immigrants of all ages except for the elderly use fewer public benefits than the U.S.-born.”

Additionally, immigration is very complex. Many families live in mixed-status households, making rights and benefits difficult to classify or quantify. The immigration code already allows for the deportation of green-card holders within five years of arrival if they become “public charges.” Historically, very few people have been deported on those grounds.

To complicate things more, some states – such as California and New York – offer public benefits to permanent residents in an effort to help families integrate into their states.

This proposal may already have a damaging effect on legal immigrants and their citizen children who are scared to access public health initiatives – even though the executive order has not being enacted and only exists as draft. Just the fear caused by this EO may prevent mothers from using important public health programs such as vaccinations and nutrition aid for pregnant women and newborns.

The narrative of the EO centers only on the cost and refuses to address the benefits.

The advocacy organization National Immigration Law Center is collecting stories of legal residents afraid to use any kind of public benefits for themselves or/and their citizen children, in order to educate the White House about the impact of this potential Executive Order. Send your story to publicharge@nilc.org.