Senate votes to block Biden’s leniency on immigrants using welfare

The Senate voted Wednesday to overturn a Biden administration rule that allows legal immigrants to use welfare without having to worry about facing consequences in their future status.

The 50-47 vote sends the measure to the House, where it is also likely to pass, given the GOP’s majority.

But the White House vowed to veto the measure, and the Senate vote fell well short of the tally that would be needed to override the president.

Still, the vote stands as another rebuke to Mr. Biden on both his expansive regulatory agenda and on immigration in particular.

U.S. immigration law for more than a century has been based on the idea that immigrants should pay their own way, including not becoming a “public charge” by taking welfare or other government support. Those who violate the public charge standard can be denied the chance to become citizens.

The current law was written in 1996, but it left it up to the administration to decide what counted as government support.

The Biden rule, finalized last year, would say that only a few cash welfare programs would count against a legal immigrant.

That overturns a Trump policy that was more expansive, including use of Medicaid or public housing assistance as strikes against legal immigrants.

The Trump policy was put on hold by a federal judge before it actually denied any immigrants a chance at citizenship, and the Biden rule officially replaces the Trump version.

The White House defended its version in its veto statement Wednesday, saying Mr. Trump’s policy had made even some U.S. citizens who live with immigrants in their households wary of asking for benefits for which they qualified.

Officials said the rule was drafted to help advance Mr. Biden’s goal of welcoming immigrants.

“It is an important step towards undoing the damage that resulted from the chilling effect of the 2019 public charge rule and provides a clear, comprehensive, and fair standard for assessing whether a noncitizen is likely to become a public charge,” the White House said.

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