The Trump administration announced new standards this week that will block legal immigrants from obtaining green cards if the government thinks they might wind up poor.
The new regulation is the centerpiece of both President Donald Trump’s anti-immigrant agenda and his anti-welfare agenda. It shows how the two complement each other — and how Trumpism is a political strategy that panders to white Americans.
Ken Cuccinelli, Trump’s acting director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, all but said Tuesday that the new rule is designed to cut down on the immigration of brown people. He suggested that a famous poem inscribed on the Statue of Liberty to welcome immigrants does not apply to people from Latin America.
“That poem was referring back to people coming from Europe where they had class-based societies where people were considered wretched if they weren’t in the right class,” Cuccinelli said on CNN.
The new version of the so-called “public charge” rule for those seeking legal permanent residency gives bureaucrats more power to block applicants who they suspect might burden the government, such as by enrolling in Medicaid or the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, commonly known as food stamps. The rule followed a series of proposed cuts to those programs, as well as a symbolic executive order.
The bulk of the cuts are stricter “work requirements” that can halt benefits for childless adults who don’t document time spent in qualified work or work-related activities. The administration is also narrowing eligibility rules for food benefits, in part because a rich guy in Minnesota signed up for assistance just to make a point that some people don’t deserve it.
While the safety net proposals are ostensibly race-neutral, American politics are not. White Americans’ attitudes toward welfare have long been shaped by racism, and bashing those programs can appeal to white voters.
“The modern right is using racism to...