The U.S. Department of Homeland Security on Saturday announced a proposal that would seek to ensure that those looking to enter and remain in the United States "will not be reliant on public benefits," such as aid programs for nutrition, prescription drugs or housing.
In an online statement, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said the department would be seeking public comment on the proposed rule in an effort to be transparent.
"This proposed rule will implement a law passed by Congress intended to promote immigrant self-sufficiency and protect finite resources by ensuring that they are not likely to become burdens on American taxpayers," she said.
The DHS statement said an individual's "inadmissibility based on the public charge" is to be determined by an evaluation of the applicant's likelihood of becoming a public charge at any time in the future. The term "public charge," it said, refers to a person who receives certain public benefits above "certain defined threshold amounts" or for longer than certain periods of time.
The statement said DHS would consider "current and past receipt of designated public benefits above certain thresholds" as a "heavily weighed negative factor."
The statement defined the public benefits described as federal, state, local or tribal assistance for income maintenance, food stamps, certain types of health care, institutionalization for long-term care at the government's expense, and public housing, among others.
The proposal will be officially published in the Federal Register "in the coming weeks," the statement said, at which time the public will have 60 days during which to offer comment online or by mail.