OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) - — A new law that went into effect Monday could impact millions of immigrants across the country.
The new public charge rule considers an immigrant’s income when trying to obtain Visas and Green Cards.
"We are not avoiding future problems by filtering out individuals with lesser resources through really high standards like this new public charge rule,” Immigrant Legal Center Policy Staff Attorney Alexis Steele said. “We're denying ourselves our future.”
Steele says many immigrants are concerned about the new immigration rule.
"We talk with a lot of pride about how an ancestor came over to the United States with two dollars in his or her pocket, and now this rule flies in the face of that proud American tradition,” Steele said.
The new Public Charge rule allows the government to deny Visas and Green Cards to legal immigrants who use government assistance programs like food stamps or Medicaid.
"It's highly problematic and the people that are going to suffer most are families,” Steele said. “Because family-based immigration makes up the greatest amount of immigration here in the United States.”
There are some exceptions; refugees, asylees, aliens exempted by congress, human trafficking victims and those under the Violence Against Women Act are all exempt.
When the White House announced this rule, the former U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Acting Director Ken Cuccinelli said, “The benefit to taxpayers is a long-term benefit of seeking to ensure that our immigration system is bringing people to join us American citizens, as legal permanent residents first, who can stand on their own two feet.”
Cuccinelli went on to say, "(the rule) enforces longstanding law requiring aliens to be self-sufficient, reaffirming the American ideals of hard work, perseverance and determination."
"When we have a new rule that comes out that creates a higher level of scrutiny that isn't seemingly justified, that doesn't have much explanation, that is going to largely impact individuals based off of how much wealth they have ... we should be concerned,” Steele said.
Steele recommends immigrants concerned about applying for their benefits speak with an attorney to learn how the new law may impact them.