Now the Trump administration wants to limit citizenship for legal immigrants The most significant change to legal immigration in decades could affect millions of would-be citizens, say lawyers and advocates.

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Image: United States Citizenship Ceremony with Justice GinsbergNew citizens recite the Pledge of Allegiance during a naturalization ceremony in New York on April 10.Justin Lane / EPA file

The Trump administration is expected to issue a proposal in coming weeks that would make it harder for legal immigrants to become citizens or get green cards if they have ever used a range of popular public welfare programs, including Obamacare, four sources with knowledge of the plan told NBC News.

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 last week 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 in the U.S.

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.

Many are like Louis Charles, a Haitian green-card holder seeking citizenship who, despite working up to 80 hours a week as a nursing assistant, has had to use public programs to support his disabled adult daughter.

Using some public benefits like Social Security Insurance has already hindered immigrants from obtaining legal status in the past, but the programs included in the recent draft plan could mean that immigrant households earning as much as 250 percent of the poverty level could be rejected.

A version of the plan has been sent to the White House Office of Management and Budget, the sources said, the final step before publishing a rule in the federal register. Reuters first reported that the White House was considering such a plan in February.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Homeland Security said: “The administration is committed to enforcing existing immigration law, which is clearly intended to protect the American taxpayer by ensuring that foreign nationals seeking to enter or remain in the U.S are self-sufficient. Any proposed changes would ensure that the government takes the responsibility of being good stewards of taxpayer funds seriously and adjudicates immigration benefit requests in accordance with the law.”

Miller, along with several of his former congressional colleagues who now hold prominent positions in the Trump administration, have long sought to decrease the number of immigrants who obtain legal status in the U.S. each year. And even before the rule is in place, the administration has made it more difficult for immigrants to gain green cards and for green-card holders to gain citizenship.

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, 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 20 percent. Data for the first two quarters of fiscal year 2018 for immigrants obtaining naturalized citizenship shows little change compared to the same period of 2016. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services says they expect naturalization numbers to rise in the latter half of the year based on previous trends.

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.

In a statement, agency spokesperson Michael Bars said, “USCIS evaluates all applications fairly, efficiently and effectively on a case-by-case basis.”

“Contrary to open borders advocates, immigration attorneys and activists,” said Bars, “USCIS has not changed the manner in which applications for naturalization have been adjudicated, as the law generally requires that an eligible applicant must have been properly admitted for permanent residence in order to become a U.S. citizen. … We reject the false and inaccurate claims of those who would rather the U.S. turn a blind eye to cases of illegal immigration, fraud, human trafficking, gang activity and drug proliferation at the expense of public safety, the integrity of our laws and their faithful execution.”

“I DID EVERYTHING THEY ASKED ME”

Charles, the Haitian green-card holder who works as a nursing assistant in a psychiatric hospital near Boston, said he was stunned to learn his application for citizenship had been denied. He had used a fake passport given to him by smugglers when he entered the U.S. from Haiti in 1989, but confessed to border officers and received a waiver from USCIS absolving him of his wrongdoing and allowing him to obtain a green card in 2011.

Now 55, Charles is a homeowner and a taxpayer and thought obtaining citizenship would be a smooth process. “I thought in this country everything was square and fair,” Charles said.

But when he went for his citizenship interview in August 2017, the USCIS officers told him they were going to revisit the decision to waive the fake passport incident, meaning he could potentially lose his green card as well

Then he received a letter in September telling him his request for citizenship had been denied.

“I was devastated. And I’m not sure exactly why they did it. I did everything they asked me to.”

He appealed the decision, but as he waits for a final verdict, his lawyer says his green-card status may also now be in question.

In late November, the Trump administration announced they would end temporary protected status for Haitians who came to the U.S. after the deadly 2010 earthquake. Charles’s wife was a recipient of that protection and without him becoming a citizen, he would be unable to vouch for her.

But Charles’s biggest concern is his daughter. Although she is in her 20s and a U.S. citizen, she has severe disabilities that make it impossible for her to live by herself.

Charles is unaware of Miller’s new plan to limit citizenship for immigrants who have used public assistance. But it is likely to affect him because he has used public assistance to help care for his daughter, so she could end up further hurting his chances for citizenship.

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.

Rosemary Jenks, executive vice president of NumbersUSA, which promotes limited immigration, said the new rule and the increased scrutiny around green card and citizenship applications are all part of a new focus at DHS on enforcing the law and preventing fraud.

“Applications for renewal or adjustment of status that have been filed with the government before are being re-examined to look for fraud,” Jenks said.

In light of this, immigration attorneys are cautioning their clients before moving from green-card status to citizenship.

Rose Hernandez is the supervising attorney at the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition’s naturalization clinic. She said the clinic’s model has completely changed in light of the crackdown. She now sends six information requests to government agencies to check on green-card holders’ backgrounds before she advises them to file for citizenship. If the government finds something she doesn’t, the fear is the applicants could lose their green cards and be sent home.

And other immigration attorneys are preparing to push back fiercely against the public charge rule.

“Any policy forcing millions of families to choose between the denial of status and food or health care would exacerbate serious problems such as hunger, unmet health needs, child poverty and homelessness, with lasting consequences for families’ wellbeing and long-term success and community prosperity,” said the National Immigration Law Center in a statement.

By Julia Ainsley/NBC
Posted by The NON-Conformist
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US Senate passes immigration reform bill

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U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) talks to reporters after a procedural vote to move forward on immigration reform legislation at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, June 27, 2013. (Reuters / Jonathan Ernst)

Image: Reuters / Jonathan Ernst

The United States Senate approved a landmark immigration bill Thursday afternoon after lawmakers in Washington voted 68-to-32 in favor of the Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013.

The Senate put its collective support behind the bill, a bipartisan effort that has been at the center of discussion on both sides of the aisle since it was introduced in Washington in April of this year.

Should the bill clear both chambers of Congress, President Barack Obama will be asked to ink his name to a comprehensive immigration reform bill that will provide new opportunities for unlawful residents to stay in America legally, while at the same time pumping millions of dollars into the United States’ border with Mexico in an attempt to limit the influx of illegal aliens.

“We’re on the edge of passing one of the most significant pieces of legislation that this body has passed in a very long time,” Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-New York) told Senate colleagues on Capitol Hill Wednesday. “The vast majority of members in this body realize that the immigration system is broken and needs fixing.”

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Atheist seeking US citizenship told to join church or be denied

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A 65-year-old British atheist who has lived in the US for 30 years has been denied US citizenship, unless she joins a church by Friday.

Image: Margaret Doughty Facebook page

During her application process to become a naturalized US citizen, Texas resident Margaret Doughty did not agree to bear arms to defend the country, claiming that she was morally opposed to killing. In order to gain citizenship, naturalization applications are required to take the oath of allegiance, swearing to support the Constitution and agree to bear arms for the US Armed Forces, if necessary.

As a result, US Citizenship and Immigration Services told the woman she could not gain citizenship unless she provided documentation proving she was “a member in good standing” of a church that morally opposed the bearing of arms.

But since Doughty is an atheist, providing such documentation is impossible unless she takes up the Christian religion by Friday.

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Supreme Court strikes down Arizona law requiring proof of citizenship to vote

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The Supreme Court on Monday struck down an Arizona law that requires people to submit proof of citizenship when they register to vote.

The vote was 7-2, with Justice Antonin Scalia writing for the court. Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito, two members of the court’s conservative wing, dissented.

Only a handful of states have similar laws, which the states say are meant to reduce voter fraud, but civil rights groups worried that more states would have followed if the Supreme Court had upheld the Arizona law. Those groups say the Arizona law was an effort to discourage voting by legal immigrants.

More from Pete Williams@ NBC News

Posted by Libergirl

WTF!

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The last I will say about Amendment One is, this issue has become personal as it should be. Think about the people backing this bill. Think about the many years preachers and politicians alike were trying to get it passed then lo and behold Repubs got control of the North Carolina General Assembly. Understand me as I say this, this is an issue some found to be important, same as Obamacare. This amendment tries to do what others can’t, make this law stronger so it won’t be overturned. The problem is: is this the only thing they wanted, or are they trying to destroy the lives of others they may disagree with. My axe to grind is two simple things: the Constitution and separation of church and state. The church has a voice and a say but is it best for everyone else that their dictates be the standard?

I could argue this issue biblically, or constitutionally but I see pass all the B.S. for what it really is: a wedge issue. The so-called church has been bought and sold. As I say this, if you comment, you’re too small to matter in this issue. Preachers talk a good game but are inconsistent with what the word teaches. This whole issue is unfair, wasteful and racist. One NC state senator’s wife was caught unawares, I’m speaking of the honorable Sen. Peter Brunstetter (R) wife who said he wanted to pass the bill to preserve the white race, I may add allegedly. Where’s the outrage from the church…wait, aren’t they the same ones that used the Bible to justify slavery and uphold miscegenation laws as well as Jim Crow? The church is on the wrong side of this issue, again; this is a wedge issue to get the electorate excited to vote in all Repubs. Everything that has been written in the amendment isn’t clear language; it’s convoluted language. I guess we will have to pass the bill to see what’s in it. I thought we were a free society, to let people live and be and exist. If Christians want to be a part of the game and get involved in constitutional matters, then it’s fair game for the church to be outed.  Let’s look into their taking care of the poor, the widow, the stranger. It’s time they are investigated for having politicians speak at their churches. It’s time for some tax exempt statuses to get revoked, time for the church to come out and be separate. I’ve said enough on this issue, vote no or vote how you feel. Overall, make an informed decision, not an uninformed one.

Romney is feeling good these days. He’s being tepidly endorsed by the very ones who complained it wasn’t fair because of his Super Pac monies. He’s taken to his new platform to blast the President on foreign policy. He’s trying to tie him to Jimmy Carter, who I thought was descent, even though he had a few miscues/missteps that cost him the office. Romney blasted Obama for not being for small businesses, another tough issue. I know some small business owners who say Obama has been bad for their business and others that say differently. Foreign policy is so difficult and is written so horribly many don’t know what it really consists of.  The other part is, should the President run on his accomplishments? Why not, others did, Bush won an election by spreading fear, wasn’t it him that said “mission accomplished.” Obama will probably win a second term, look at what he’s against, this country is wandering aimlessly about in the wilderness, forever lost.

Why are so Americans renouncing their citizenship? Is being an expatriate the new freedom; just a thought. Read more at the Russian Times.

The NON-Conformist

Things We Throw Away

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I was thinking about the issue of illegal immigration and I wonder what is illegal? Think about it this way, weren’t the Polish, Italians and Irish illegals when they entered Ellis Island? I understand I’m not going to definitively answer this question in 300 words or less, I do however want us look at the issue more closely. Why all the backlash against Mexicans and Haitians? Sure Mexican workers suffer here but due to conditions back home they make out much better. People there are looking at what’s facing them and want a part of the American pie chart; why not? If the shoe were on the other foot, we would do the same thing. Mexicans are giving their progeny a chance to learn and benefit from the education system. It is true we need to toughen our borders, but at what cost. The argument against illegals is they don’t pay their fair share. Don’t they buy goods, don’t they live in rented spaces? Have we thought about those that hire them are making out like bandits( lower overhead equals more money in their pocket and less taxes). We could, if we wanted to, use the General Electric scenario of them paying no taxes while illegal immigrants paid billions. Illegal immigrants want their papers but we make it so egregious for them to do so. Look into the process for yourself, it’s not worth it. They should be given a special number, picture identification and a plan towards citizenship. Stipulations should be made and rightfully so and their record should be clean. America benefits as well. The sale of goods is their most obvious contribution but they add to the overall economy which is a positive. The criminal aspect of illegals has been reported but for the most part it isn’t as detrimental as the media would have you believe. Sure there are crude elements to every group or race of people, we all are not model citizens but that aside we must embrace all cultures. Look at the history of the early immigrants and look at immigrants now. Why is this new group being so marginalized? We have seen the effects of these new tough immigration laws and how state economies have dropped considerably. Some farms have gone under because of lack of immigrant labor. Look at Georgia and Alabama, they are currently feeling the brunt of mistreating human beings.

The NON-Conformist

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