A reminder to all of our readers of President Trump’s recent memo making it mandatory for state and local agencies to sue I-864 sponsors for all means-tested benefits that are paid to adjustment of status applicants/beneficiaries. These means-tested benefits programs include Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Medicaid, and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). The key takeaway is the following: if the sponsored immigrant receives any federal means-tested public benefits, the sponsor will be expected to reimburse the benefits-granting agency for every dollar of benefits received by the immigrant. We will see in the coming weeks and months what this enforcement will exactly look like.
Copied from USCIS:
On May 23, 2019, the President issued a Presidential Memorandum on Enforcing the Legal Responsibilities of Sponsors of Aliens. The memorandum directs relevant federal agencies to update or issue procedures, guidance, and regulations to comply with current law and ensure that ineligible immigrants do not receive federal means-tested benefits. The memorandum highlights the commitment of the Administration to enforcing existing immigration laws and protecting the American taxpayer.
As part of USCIS’ implementation of this memorandum, USCIS officers will now be required to remind individuals at their adjustment of status interviews of their sponsors’ responsibilities under existing law and regulations. Our officers must remind applicants and sponsors that the Affidavit of Support is a legal and enforceable contract between the sponsor and the federal government. The sponsor must be willing and able to financially support the intending immigrant as outlined by law and regulations (see INA 213A and 8 CFR 213a). If the sponsored immigrant receives any federal means-tested public benefits, the sponsor will be expected to reimburse the benefits-granting agency for every dollar of benefits received by the immigrant.
Over the next several months, federal agencies will develop and implement guidance on the presidential memorandum to make sure that agencies enforce these requirements. USCIS will do our part, and we are actively working to implement the President’s directive with our federal partners, including by updating policies and regulations. We continue to advance the President’s directive to enforce the public charge ground of inadmissibility, which seeks to ensure that immigrants are self-sufficient and rely on their own capabilities and the resources of their families, their sponsors, and private organizations rather than public resources.
The President has made it a priority to ensure that every individual who seeks to come to the United States is self-sufficient, temporarily or permanently. The principle of self-sufficiency has been enshrined in our immigration laws since the 1800s, and we as an agency must ensure that immigrants who become part of this great country abide by this principle.
Ken Cuccinelli II
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