"Bill Clinton, in contrast, is almost certainly the first president to promote the diversity rather than the unity of the country he leads." Samuel P. Huntington, Professor, Harvard University

"Bill Clinton has dedicated his Presidency to the deconstruction of America. He will twist every law and use every trick to do this. He will use the cry of racism to disarm Americans as he goes about his dirty work."

Glenn Spencer, Voice of Citizens Together

"...in what some viewed as a generous interpretation, INS is permitting sponsors to count the income produced by all wage earners in the household toward fulfilling the 125 percent-of-poverty requirement."

VCT comment: Clinton is twisting the law to keep the borders open. So what's new? Congress will never be able to pass enough laws to corral Slick Willie. The only thing that will work is a strick reduction in the absolute numbers of immigrants.


December 18, 1997

New Immigration Rules Take Effect

By MICHELLE MITTELSTADT

Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) -- U.S. residents seeking to bring a foreign relative here permanently must prove to the government that their income exceeds 125 percent of federal poverty levels. The new rule, effective Friday and mandated under the 1996 immigration law, also requires sponsors to shoulder financial responsibility if the newcomers tap into public benefits.

Backers of the new provisions say it's only fair that immigrants not become public burdens on their arrival. But critics complain the changes will disqualify thousands of lower-income Americans from reuniting with their families. They also contend the requirement that sponsors reimburse the government for any public benefits received by their charges amounts to an open-ended financial liability.

The new rules affect U.S. citizens and legal immigrants seeking to sponsor spouses, parents, children or siblings. That family-based visa category normally encompasses about 565,000 applicants annually. Earlier this year, the Immigration and Naturalization Service estimated the income requirement rules could disqualify up to 29 percent of all sponsors. But the agency now says it cannot estimate the rules' impact because sponsors will be allowed to recruit others to jointly share the financial obligation.

Also, in what some viewed as a generous interpretation, INS is permitting sponsors to count the income produced by all wage earners in the household toward fulfilling the 125 percent-of-poverty requirement. Current poverty levels mean a would-be sponsor in a four-person household would have to make at least $20,062 to be eligible to bring in a relative. The law ``is likely to reduce legal immigration to some extent,'' INS Commissioner Doris Meissner said in an interview earlier this week. ``That's the real issue: How will people cope with the change? Will they be able to get pooled resources in a way that allows the sponsorships to continue?'' ``We'll have to see how it actually works out in practice.''

Sponsors always have had to fill out a sponsorship affidavit in which they agree the newcomer will not be supported by public money. But lawmakers, irritated that the agreement was not enforced, toughened the rules last year and banned newcomers from tapping into most public benefits for five years after their arrival. ``We want immigrants to come to work and produce, not to live off the taxpayers,'' Rep. Lamar Smith, the San Antonio Republican who chairs the House immigration subcommittee, said Thursday. ``Twenty-one percent of immigrant households receive some form of welfare,'' he added. ``This is contrary to century-old law that says we won't admit any immigrants who are likely to go on welfare.''

Critics suggest the sponsorship changes gave Smith and his allies a way to achieve cuts in legal immigration that Congress rejected last year. ``It's a backdoor way to try to keep Americans from sponsoring their loved ones,'' said Frank Sharry, head of the National Immigration Forum, which lobbies on behalf of immigrants. ``It's contrary to our tradition as a nation of immigrants.'' Opponents also worry that the sponsorship agreement amounts to an open-ended burden, ending only when the newcomer has 10 years of qualified employment here, leaves the country, becomes a citizen or dies. The law doesn't take into account changed circumstances. ``There is absolutely no protection in the law for U.S. nationals in case of divorce,'' said Los Angeles immigration lawyer Carl Shusterman. ``Given the divorce rate in this country, it is easy to foresee that in a few years there will be tens of thousands of U.S. citizens financially on the hook for their alien ex-spouses.''

Others fret about the consequences for sponsors whose charges become ill, injured or otherwise forced to accept public assistance. Effective Friday, government agencies can go after sponsors for reimbursement if their charges are found to have obtained benefits for which they are not eligible during their first five years here. Noncitizens are ineligible for food stamps, Medicaid, Supplemental Security Income and Temporary Assistance to Needy Families.

AP-NY-12-18-97 1445EST Copyright 1997 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed