When the Trump administration announced that it is going to start enforcing a Clinton-era law that denies legal immigration status and work cards for non-naturalized immigrants who have come to rely on government welfare programs, Nevada Democrats recoiled in horror.

How dare the administration insist that immigrants earn their own way and not be a burden on the taxpayers.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services acting Director Ken Cuccinelli said at a White House press briefing that President Trump was delivering on his promise to enforce longstanding immigration law. 

“Today, USCIS, the agency I head as part of the Department of Homeland Security, has issued a rule that encourages and ensures self-reliance and self-sufficiency for those seeking to come to, or to stay in, the United States,” Cuccinelli said. “It will also help promote immigrant success in the United States as they seek opportunity here. …  The virtues of perseverance, hard work, and self-sufficiency laid the foundation of our nation and have defined generations of immigrants seeking opportunity in the United States.”

As of Oct. 15 legal immigrants would no longer be able to stay and work in this country if during a 12-month period over the past three years they had received a certain level of cash benefits, Supplemental Security Income, Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program, most forms of Medicaid and some housing programs such as Section 8.

In a Twitter posting Las Vegas Democratic Rep. Dina Titus charged, “The Trump Administration just put forward another cruel plan to cut legal immigration and put food, health care, and housing further out of reach for immigrant families. That’s why I co-sponsored a bill to block this disgraceful proposal from going into effect.”

Democratic Rep. Steve Horsford, who represents northern Clark County and much of Southern Nevada, put out a press release blasting the new criteria. “This is just the latest attack from the Trump administration on immigrant communities — taking health care and food away from children and families …” the congressman said. “This fight isn’t over. We must continue to stand up, speak out, and fight back to protect immigrant families. This regulation forces millions of families to choose between the things the food, shelter and health care they need and the people they love.”

Back in October, when the administration first broached the changes in legal immigration eligibility, Nevada senior Democratic Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto joined with several other senators in a letter declaring, “Frightening people away from critical resources would compromise families and communities across our country. The wellbeing of children and parents are inextricably linked. It is impossible to single out one member of a family without having a ripple effect on children and other members of the household. One in four children in America have at least one foreign-born parent, and children of immigrants make up 31 percent of all children in families that receive relevant benefits. Furthermore, over nine million of these children are U.S. citizens.” 

According to various studies as many as 50 to 60 percent of households headed by non-citizen immigrants rely on some form of welfare compared to 30 to 40 percent of homes headed by native-born citizens.

This past week Nevada Democratic Attorney General Aaron Ford decided to spend Nevada tax money to fight the new rules, joining with a dozen other attorneys general in filing suit against the federal government. 

“I pledged to protect Nevada’s families, and I will continue to protect our families from the Trump Administration’s numerous attacks,” Ford said in a press release announcing his action. “This proposed change is not only mean-spirited, it essentially makes legal immigrants choose between maintaining their legal status and receiving assistance to meet basic needs, like food, health care and housing. It’s unconscionable.”

U.S. taxpayers should not be expected to feed, house and provide health care for everyone on the planet who manages to make it to our doorstep. — TM