Editorial Aug 22-28 2018: Mean and Meaner

Memo to the huddled masses: Don’t get too cozy!

Immigrating to America has never come with a cast iron guarantee that all will be well for the rest of your days. That is well and widely understood.

Arriving in a new country, unless the individual has so much wealth that the world is literally his or her oyster, is rarely an easy process.

At the same time, America offers much to those who are prepared to work hard and act wisely.

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But what if lousy luck or misfortune strikes?

There are times when America’s help is needed. Life doesn’t always proceed to plan, and a winner take all society can be a hard host.

Immigrants, then, sometime need a leg up from their adopted homeland.

Temporarily mind you because the public welfare system in the U.S. is not an open-ended book.

But perhaps too open as far as some are concerned.

According to recent reports, the Trump administration is expected to issue a proposal that would make it harder for legal immigrants to become citizens or get green cards if they have ever used popular public welfare programs, including the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare.

This was first reported by NBC News.

The report stated that the move, which would not need congressional approval, is part of White House senior adviser Stephen Miller's plan to limit the number of migrants who obtain legal status in the U.S. each year.

Details of the rulemaking proposal are still being finalized, but based on a recent draft seen and described to NBC News, immigrants living legally in the U.S. who have ever used, or whose household members have ever used Obamacare, children's health insurance, food stamps, and other benefits, could be hindered from obtaining legal status.

Reported NBC: “Immigration lawyers and advocates and public health researchers say it would be the biggest change to the legal immigration system in decades and estimate that more than 20 million immigrants could be affected. They say it would fall particularly hard on immigrants working jobs that don't pay enough to support their families.”

Suffice it to say, Stephen Miller, he of the zero tolerance policy, has been a busy man over the past couple of years. Much of his energy has been devoted to upping enforcement against the undocumented and illegal, but also in promoting ways to change the nature and scale of legal immigration.

Now Miller seems intent on making life more difficult for many U.S. resident legal immigrants.

According to reports, in fiscal year 2016, the last full fiscal year under the Obama administration, 1.2 million immigrants became lawful permanent residents, or green card holders, and 753,060 became naturalized U.S. citizens, this according to data from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Data from the first quarter of fiscal year 2018 indicates that the administration is on track for a decline in immigrants granted green cards by twenty percent.

Four immigration lawyers practicing in Massachusetts, Virginia, Tennessee and California told NBC News they have noticed a spike in the number of their clients being rejected when seeking green cards and naturalized citizenship.

Reported NBC: “Though its effects could be far-reaching, the proposal to limit citizenship to immigrants who have not used public assistance does not appear to need congressional approval.

“As the Clinton administration did in 1999, the Trump administration would be redefining the term ‘public charge,’ which first emerged in immigration law in the 1800s in order to shield the U.S. from burdening too many immigrants who could not contribute to society.”

So the huddled masses better make sure that they are not too poor, and certainly not so poor that they, or their families, at some point need a helping hand in the lately booming version of the world’s largest economy.

But fair play to Stephen Miller all the same. He is surely an American success story. He’s a young man working in the White House and apparently enjoying free rein in deciding the futures of God knows how many people who want nothing more than to breathe free and make a go of it in an American life.

Good thing there was nobody like him lurking in the White House hallways when his own ancestors, Jews from imperial Russia fleeing poverty and persecution, first laid eyes on the lady in the harbor with the lamp and those words at her feet which lately seem to matter less and less to the nativist comfortable and non-afflicted.