By Brittany Comak


Twitter: @BComakABC6

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) - The Trump Administration is ratcheting up the issue of immigration with updates to the Public Charge rule this week.

The update to the rule would make it harder for those on some public assistance programs to get green cards.

Immigrants rights activists say applying for a green card generally requires proof of many years of work and that you can sustain yourself, but that this update to the rule will make that even harder.

"It's meant to put everyone into a panic," said Arely Diaz of local immigrants rights group AMOR.

The nation's Public Charge rule was first written in 1882. It allowed the country to deny a visa to anyone who is deemed likely to solely rely on government subsidies.

The most recent update to the rule expands who can be deemed a public charge.

"Give me your tired and your poor who can stand on their own two feet and who will not become a public charge," explained Acting Director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Ken Cuccinelli to NPR.

Beginning after Columbus Day this year, people applying for permanent residency in the U.S. may be denied if they use public assistance programs like food stamps, or section 8 housing.

Diaz says immigrants often need government assistance when they are first starting out.

"Everyone will be very afraid of applying for temporary help," said Diaz. "Which is very necessary for families that are low income and don't have enough money for groceries or don't have enough money to pay for hospital bills."

Congressman David Cicilline said the update could be challenged by Congress, but would likely have trouble making it through the Senate.

He says it's also likely to face legal challenges.

"Punishing people who are here legally because they may need to avail themselves of some public assistance whether it be food stamps, or some other government programming - it's just not who we are as a country," said Cicilline.

The update to the rule will not apply to people who are renewing a green card, children under 21, pregnant women, or people with official refugee status.

President Trump said Tuesday that updating the rule is a matter of taking the burden off of tax payers.

"I don't think its fair to have the American taxpayers paying for people to come into the United States," he said."

Those with AMOR say they will likely host food drives and free clinics to make sure immigrants are eating and getting medical care.