NEW YORK — A new federal regulation could affect New Yorkers looking to gain citizenship.
Legal immigrants receiving public benefits could now be denied a green card or visa.
"If people are not able to be self sufficient, then this negative factor is going to bear very heavily against them in a decision about whether they'll be able to become a legal permanent resident," Ken Cuccinelli, acting director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service, announced Monday.
Jackson Heights resident Marco Romero said his sister's boyfriend is trying decide if he should drop SNAP benefits.
"He is worried that because of the food stamps, he won't be able to do the citizenship," he said.
Abbey Sussell of the New York Immigration Coalition said legal immigrants who receive SNAP, housing benefits or Medicaid should consult a legal expert before dropping the benefits. The new regulation goes into effect in mid-October.
"We look at this as a clear attack on immigrants from the Trump Administration," Sussell said.
According to the New York Immigration Coalition, millions of people in the United States have already begun dropping benefits because they are afraid it might impact their chances of getting a green card or visa.
Acting Director Cuccinelli said the new regulation is intended to encourage people to be self-sufficient.
"It will also help promote immigrant success in the United States as they seek opportunity here," he said.
Mayor Bill de Blasio tweeted, "We won't stop fighting for our immigrant brothers and sisters. @realdonaldtrump, we'll see you in court."
Various groups have already promised a legal challenge.
This new regulation does not affect every immigrant. The New Americans Hotline is a resource where people can find out whether or not they are affected. The number is 1-800-566-7636. Calls are confidential and anonymous.