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On Aug. 14, 2019, President Donald Trump promulgated federal regulationswhich provide additional guidance for determining whether an alien applying for admission to the United States or adjustment of statusis inadmissible because he is likely to become a public charge.

The announcement produced a firestorm of bizarre, emotionally charged warnings about what Trump is trying to do.

The people making these claims must not be aware of the fact that Congress made the likelihood of becoming a public charge an exclusion ground more than a century ago — Trump had nothing to do with it.

The furor

Rep. Norma Torres(D-Calif.) claimsthat Trump is targeting people of color and punishing them for needing assistance to make ends meet.

According to Charles Wheeler, Director of the Catholic Legal Immigration Network Inc., “The Trump administration is trying to bypass Congress and implement its own merit based-immigration system. It’s really a backdoor way of prohibiting low-income people from immigrating.”

Marielena Hincapié, Executive Director of the National Immigration Law Center(NILC), says that the new rule"is a cruel new step toward weaponizing programs that are intended to help people by making them, instead, a means of separating families and sending immigrants and communities of color one message: You are not welcome here."

And House Speaker Nancy Pelosi(D-Calif.) tweeted, "This hateful, bigoted rule is a direct assault on our nation's proud heritage as a beacon of hope and opportunity for all and a clear attempt to demonize and terrorize the newcomers who make America more American."

The truth: ‘public charge’ exclusion is nothing new

The ground for exclusion was established in 1882 by America’s first general immigration law, An Act to Regulate Immigration. It excluded any immigrant seeking admission to the United States who was found to be "unable to take care of himself or herself without becoming a public charge."

From the beginning, immigrants were expected to be able to take care of themselves without public assistance.

Congress reaffirmed this policy in 1952 with section 212(a)(15) of the McCarren-Walter Act, which required the exclusion of "Aliens who ... in the opinion of the Attorney General at the time of application for admission, are likely at any time to become public charge."

Read more at https://thehill.com/opinion/immigrat...ly-exaggerated

Published originally in The Hill.

Nolan Rappaport was detailed to the House Judiciary Committee as an executive branch immigration law expert for three years. He subsequently served as an immigration counsel for the Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security and Claims for four years. Prior to working on the Judiciary Committee, he wrote decisions for the Board of Immigration Appeals for 20 years. Follow him on Twitter @NolanR1