The Department of Homeland Security missed their second deadline to explain the apparent dilution of immigration law barring those seeking entry to the United States from becoming “primarily dependent on the government for subsistence,” or a so-called public charge, to four GOP senators on Monday.
The ranking Republicans on the Senate Finance, Agriculture, Budget, and Judiciary Committees have been pushing DHS and the Department of State since early August for an explanation as to why reliance on only two of the nearly 80 federal welfare programs in America (Supplemental Social Security Income and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) constitute a dependency risk and make an applicant unqualified for entry on public charge grounds.
An applicant’s participation in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) or food stamps, housing benefits, energy assistance, child care services, Medicaid and a slew of other programs are all inadmissible, according to current immigration policy, when considering an individual’s application for citizenship, visa or a status adjustment.
While an explanation of the policy and accompanying data has not been forthcoming from the federal government, Department of State data analyzed by the staff of Alabama Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions, ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee, reveals a shockingly low percentage of applications (immigrant and non-immigrant — or those applying for a temporary pass) denied visas on public charge grounds for fiscal year 2011 and in years prior.
In FY 2011, out of more than 10.37 million (immigrant and non-immigrant) applications processed by the State Department, just 7,069 applications were found to be ineligible on the basis of the applicant becoming a public charge, or .068 percent, according to the analysis.
Further, the net percentage of all visa applications denied on public charge grounds, subtracting those who were able to overcome the finding for fiscal year 2011 (as applicants can reapply), was just .003 percent. Thus, for those applications deemed to be inadmissible on the already finite definition of becoming dependent on the American government, nearly as many were able to overcome the finding.
The total number of applications denied on all refusal grounds — from terrorist activity to misrepresentation to criminal activity and the like — was 2.39 million, or 23.05 percent.
“Federal immigration law establishes those seeking entrance into the United States cannot be welfare-reliant,” Sessions reacted to the data to TheDC. “The initial assessment of State Department data suggests that the law is being ignored. In fact, we know that federal authorities are even encouraging welfare use among foreign nationals.”
The revelation follows a recent study of census data by the Center for Immigration Studies, which found that in 2010, 36 percent of immigrant-headed households were on at least one major welfare program — largely nutrition assistance and Medicaid (both considered inadmissible in determining one’s dependency risk according to current policy) — compared to 23 percent of native headed households. Based on the study, the top countries for which welfare use was highest among their immigrant-heads of households in America were Mexico (57 percent), Guatemala (55 percent) and the Dominican Republic (54 percent).
The first deadline to offer a response to questions pertaining to the public charge policy was Aug. 20, but DHS offered nothing.
In September, the State Department provided some data points on the number of individuals denied visas on the basis of becoming a public charge and the number able to overcome that denial through an affidavit of support — but indicated that the majority of the senators’ inquiries about the policy falls under the purview of DHS.