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  • George Farag

Penalize Immigrant Sponsors Not American Taxpayers

Representative #GraceMeng’s No Public Charge Deportation Act is misplaced. It penalizes the American taxpayer when an immigrant needs welfare assistance. Instead let’s penalize the financial sponsor who promised to financially support the #immigrant(s) they bring to America.



On February 24, 2020, Trump’s new public charge rule will go into affect. The new rule gives immigration officials broader parameters to identify immigration candidates who may need public welfare programs in America. Those candidates will not qualify for immigration to the United States.


The new rule is consistent with American law. Title 8, Section 1601 of the U.S. Code requires immigrants to not be a public charge. In other words they cannot depend on American taxpayers for financial support in America.


The primary method a family-based immigrant demonstrates that he or she will not be a public charge is by having a financial sponsor. The financial sponsor is an American citizen or legal permanent resident who takes financial responsibility for the immigrant. They sign an affidavit of support that legally binds them to provide financial support to the immigrant when/if needed.

The financial sponsor is an American citizen or legal permanent resident who takes financial responsibility for the immigrant.

During my time as a U.S. diplomat and consular officer I interviewed immigration candidates and reviewed their documentation. I had to make sure that the sponsor met the financial requirements to support the immigrant. I also confirmed that the affidavit of support was accurate, complete, and signed.


I took this responsibility very seriously. The affidavit of support is a contract with the U.S. government. The government can and should hold the sponsor legally responsible if the immigrant does become a public charge after arriving in America.

The government can and should hold the sponsor legally responsible if the immigrant does become a public charge after arriving in America.

This is why I was surprised to learn that Representative Grace Meng (D-NY), a member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security, introduced the No Public Charge Deportation Act (H.R. 5814). This act would remove public charge as grounds for the deportation of immigrants in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). This means that if the immigrant becomes a public charge there would be no consequences.


In the proposed bill Rep. Meng states “one in seven adults in immigrant families reported that they or a family member did not participate in a noncash benefit program (assistance with health care, housing, food, etc.) in 2018, out of fear of risking future green card status.”

According to Meng's bill if the immigrant becomes a public charge there would be no consequences.

I understand that this is a difficult decision to make. However the immigrant is correct to refrain from participating public welfare programs out of fear of risking their green card status. This is exactly what they, and their sponsor, agreed to during the immigration process. The financial sponsor, who signed the affidavit of support, should be responsible to offer the immigrant financial support and not the American taxpayer.


Representative Meng continues, “Even individuals who already have legal status, including permanent residents, are forgoing these benefits out of fear of risking the status of a relative.” Once again the immigrant is correct for forgoing those benefits. This is because a legal permanent resident who is sponsoring a relative promised the U.S. government that they would be financially responsible for their immigrant relative. How can they fulfill this promise if they themselves need public welfare to support themselves?


Representative Meng’s proposed legislation is fueled by passion not policy. She is basically saying that a tenant can sign a lease with a landlord for a rent of $500 per month. After the tenant moves into the apartment they don’t pay the rent. Not paying the rent would no longer be a reason to legally evict the tenant. This is not fair to the landlord and would eventually destroy the housing sector.


I immigrated to America. Years later my family fell on hard times and I stood in line for government cheese, butter and milk. American taxpayers helped my family and me survive. I can appreciate Rep. Meng’s desire to assist immigrants who need help. However her attention is misplaced. When an immigrant needs welfare assistance let’s not penalizing the American taxpayer. Let’s penalize the financial sponsor who promised the American people that they would take care of the immigrant(s) they bring to America.


Let’s not penalizing the American taxpayer. Let’s penalize the financial sponsor who promised the American people that they would take care of the immigrant(s) they bring to America.
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