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Politics & Government

Markell speaks out against possible Trump administration changes to legal immigration

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Delaware Public Media
Former Gov. Jack Markell

Former Delaware Gov. Jack Markell is speaking out against a draft proposal by the Trump Administration that could make it harder for immigrants to get legal U.S. residency.

Current law allows the government to deny residency to noncitizens who it believes will be dependent on cash assistance or who will require long-term care the government has to pay for.

But under a Trump administration draft proposal, noncitizens who could qualify for non-cash benefits like health insurance subsidies, heating assistance or food stamps may also lose their chance at legal residency.

Markell said he’s concerned about the possible impact on the tens of millions of U.S. citizens who have immigrant parents.

“The idea that we would say to parents ‘Well you can’t feed your kids with you know government paid for assistance or get your kids health care. If you do we’re going to hold it against you in terms of your immigration status,’" he said. "I mean this is just unbelievable and it really makes you wonder who we what we’ve become, who we’ve become as a country.”

The Washington Post published a leaked draft of the proposal last week along with an op-ed by Markell.

President Donald Trump has said legal immigrants strain resources meant for poor U.S. citizens. But Markell said a lot of the public assistance goes to help the U.S. children of those immigrants.

“If they’re hungry and not healthy, that could very much be an impact on taxpayers for a long term because they could need government support that they will be entitled to," he said.

The Migrant Policy Institute, a D.C. think tank, said nearly sixteen million U.S. citizens under the age of 18 have at least one immigrant parent.

The Trump administration’s draft proposal shows native-born Americans use public assistance at about the same rate as people who were born somewhere else.

The proposal is likely to be made public this year. Rule changes must go through a public comment period.

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