Virus Should Delay Trump’s Immigrant Wealth Test, States Say


(Bloomberg) -- A group of U.S. states urged the Trump administration to delay implementing its new wealth test for immigrants during the coronavirus pandemic, saying it will discourage immigrants from seeking health care and put the nation at greater risk.

The so-called public charge rule is designed to weed out green card applicants likely to need public assistance. But 18 Democratic attorneys general said Thursday in a letter to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security that immigrants may fear that accessing available public health benefits will threaten their green-card eligibility.

“Every person who doesn’t get the health coverage they need today risks infecting another person tomorrow,” Letitia James, New York’s attorney general, said Friday in a statement. “The Trump Administration refuses to assure immigrants that getting the tests and health coverage they need will not be used against them.”

The administration last week issued an “alert” that said immigrants’ use of some public services for coronavirus testing or treatment wouldn’t be held against them. But the states said the response was “confusing and contradictory.” Delaying the rule during the pandemic would be the best way to ensure immigrants seek care, the AGs said.

The Department of Homeland Security didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

The U.S. Supreme Court in January cleared the government to implement the rule, which the Trump administration has argued is necessary to prevent immigrants from becoming a drain on society by making use of public benefits like food stamps, Medicaid or housing assistance

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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