DHS Proposal Targets Legal Residency for Immigrants Who Receive EITC

By Devin Simpson

The Trump administration is considering a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) proposal that would penalize immigrants seeking permanent U.S. residency if they have received a wide range of public benefits, including the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC).

Under current law, only non-U.S. citizens receiving cash welfare are considered a “public charge,” meaning primarily dependent on the government for subsistence. Such a determination can result in the denial of new immigration visas or legal permanent residency for those with expiring work visas. The new DHS proposal would broaden the current definition of a public charge to include those receiving non-cash assistance such as the EITC, despite the fact that the credit’s recipients are both working and paying taxes.

The Washington Post’s Nick Miroff called the inclusion of the EITC “one of the most radical changes outlined in the proposal,” noting that such changes could force immigrants and their families in crisis to forgo financial assistance for fear of jeopardizing their residency status. According to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, out of the 41.5 million immigrants living in the country in 2013, 3.7 percent received cash benefits while 22.7 percent received non-cash assistance.

According to The Post, the proposal is awaiting final approval by DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen.