Editorial, Opinion

EDITORIAL: The public charge ruling adds another level of scrutiny to immigration

In a monumental Supreme Court decision Monday, the Trump administration was given approval to make a sweeping change to the nation’s legal immigration system. Once it becomes fully integrated, many green card applicants already in the U.S. and abroad will be subjected to a more stringent “public charge” evaluation.  

During the application process, an immigrant official’s decision to grant someone a green card will be primarily based on the individual’s likeliness of becoming an economic burden. The public justification for this change is based on capitalism, wherein humans are viewed as means of production. 

As a result, the burden of proof falls onto the applicants. Moving forward, they will have to show that they’ve become self-sufficient in a country that constrains their upward mobility or will be self-sufficient despite starting anew in a foreign country. How have we twisted an economic philosophy so far in our favor that we equate people’s ability to reside in this country with the monetary value of their labor? 

Why are diversity of life experiences and backgrounds not an equally considered value-add? 

It is reasonable to demand self-sufficiency from those trying to gain legal access to the country if this administration is also going to hold all Americans to this high standard. After all, the whole point of this ruling is to “ … [reaffirm] the American ideals of hard work, perseverance and determination,” according to Ken Cuccinelli, the acting deputy secretary of the Department of Homeland Security.  

However, there remains differential treatment between American citizens and immigrants who use the social safety net. Not to mention, there are definitely some percentage of Americans who abuse it. If the minimum wage from a blue-collared job is objectively not enough for anyone to live off of, the only reason there are higher expectations for immigrants is xenophobia. 

The goods and services these individuals are using aren’t free luxury vehicles — they are necessities. The “handouts” rhetoric that is commonly used nowadays to describe those accepting government benefits is extremely dismissive of the effort they are, in fact, putting in to pull themselves up by the bootstraps. It is completely immoral to deny people the resources they need to merely survive just because they come from a seemingly worse off place. 

Completely uprooting yourself and trying to adapt to an objectively environment is no small task. What reason do we have to not make this whirlwind of a transition slightly easier for them? Furthermore, those in the country who are applying for a green card evidently prefer their lives here and have proved their worth to our economic system. 

The prevailing assumption among immigration conservatives is that people who have come here and want to come here are only seeking to reap benefits. Again, it demonizes immigrants, but more importantly, on a faulty basis. In order to reap the benefits of the social safety net, they need to have access to it. This administration, and more broadly this country, has been incredibly hostile to newcomers. If they wanted public benefits, the U.S. would not be the landing spot. 

And what if they come to the U.S. for that reason? The proper, humanitarian view says that we cannot deprive people from a decent way of life. 

Unofficially, this rule aims to only allow affluent immigrants into this country. And that is contrary to the very foundation of this country. So many of the most successful Americans are where they are because their immigrant ancestors were given the fair opportunity to lift themselves out of poverty.

The ruling will undoubtedly create more problems than it will solve. Families will inevitably be separated. There will be more illegal immigration. If President Donald Trump wants so badly for people to come to the U.S. legally, citizenship, visas and other legal permissions should be more accessible to create that incentive. 

All that this court decision has accomplished was prop up the view that America is the land of racist capitalists. 




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