The Trump Administration Is Screwing Poor Mexicans Out of Visas

A woman holds the envelope containing her United States citizenship papers and an American flag at a naturalization ceremony.
Photo: David Zalubowski/AP

While the Trump administration’s “public charge” regulation changes are still days away from being finalized, Politico reports that the State Department has denied thousands of visa applicants essentially for being too poor. Mexican nationals, unsurprisingly, are the most affected.

State Department data obtained by the publication shows that between the beginning of last October and July 29, 5,343 Mexican nationals were denied immigrant visas under the suspicion that they would become at risk of depending upon government benefits while in the U.S. In comparison, only 7 Mexican nationals were denied under the same concerns in fiscal year 2016.

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“Public charge” denials have rose altogether, as have denials for immigrant visas overall. According to Politico, only 1,033 people were denied as public charge risks in 2016, while 12,179 people have been given the same denial since last October, as of July 29.

Applicants denied on these grounds can submit other proof that they’d be economically independent in the U.S., but only 1,330 of the more than 5,000 Mexican nationals were able to reverse their ruling. And while Mexico may have faced the most public charged denials, other countries also experienced dramatic increases in denials. See if you can spot a pattern here:

From Politico:

The State Department denied 1,254 Indian immigrant visa applications in fiscal 2018, a sharp increase over the 268 denials the year before. No Indian applicants were denied on public charge grounds in fiscal 2016, according to the data obtained by POLITICO.

[...]

The State Department refused 1,502 Bangladeshi immigrant visa applicants in fiscal 2018. Consular statistics show no Bangladeshi denials in fiscal 2016. The department turned away 1,246 Pakistani immigrant visa applicants that year, an increase over just two denials in fiscal 2016.

[...]

The State Department turned away 1,109 Haitian immigrant visa applicants in fiscal 2018, after no denials two years earlier.

Applicants from the Dominic Republic saw 1,012 immigrant visa denials through the first 10 months of fiscal 2019, up from a single rejection in fiscal 2016.

Strangely enough, the U.S.’s northern neighbor didn’t experience such a dramatic uptick in public charge denials. From Politico again:

Some countries experienced little change. Only three Canadian immigrant visa applicants were refused on public charge grounds in fiscal 2018. A single applicant from that country was denied in fiscal 2016.

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How weird and totally unexplainable!

Politico’s report comes amid the finalization of new standards, introduced by white supremacist White House aide Stephen Miller, which allow visa applicants to be turned away from the U.S. if they’re likely to (or already do) depend upon “cash assistance or long-term, institutionalized care.”

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A version of the proposal from September stated that the new regulations would also include government services such as food stamps, Medicaid, Section 8 housing vouchers, welfare, or prescription drug subsidies. The Department of Homeland Security is expected to finalize these regulations within the next few days—though judging from the above data, it’s likely that this is really just a formality before a policy is implemented that will negatively impact the lives of thousands more immigrants.

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About the author

Samantha Grasso

Splinter Staff Writer, Texan