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The Trump administration has denied thousands of poor visa applicants because they could rely on government benefits

The Trump administration is denying poor visa applicants like never before.

In the last year full fiscal year of former President Barack Obama's term, the State Department only denied seven Mexican visa applicants on the grounds that they could become too reliant on government benefits. But from Oct. 1 of last year until July 29, the State Department denied 5,343 Mexicans on the same "public charge" grounds — and that number will likely only grow as the Trump administration moves to expand the definition of what it considers a public charge, Politico reports.

As it stands, "public charge" grounds for visa denials aren't spelled out in State Department rules. They simply say "immigrants and visitors to the United States can be turned away if they’re likely to become a public charge after admission," Politico writes. Yet the Trump administration last year moved to spell out those so-called public charges, proposing that using food stamps, housing subsidies, Medicaid, prescription drug subsidies, or welfare could be disqualifying. These changes are expected to take hold in the next few days, Politico says, though advocates say immigrants have already stopped using public benefits they fear would hurt their visa chances.

Yet even before this coming change was proposed, the department revised other guidelines in January 2018 that made it easier to be declared a possible public charge. Visa denials promptly skyrocketed from 1,033 in fiscal year 2016 to 3,209 in fiscal year 2017 to 12,973 in 2018. Fiscal year 2019 doesn't end until October, but the State Department has so far already rejected 12,179 applications on public grounds, Politico reports via preliminary data.

Read more at Politico.