The new immigration regulation flies in the face of previous immigration rhetoric put forth by President Donald Trump, who had repeatedly avowed support for those foreign-born individuals who followed the legal process for staying in the United States.
Cuccinelli was also asked about the inscription at the White House on Monday and said: "I do not think, by any means, we are ready to take anything off the Statue of Liberty".
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has changed the scope of the so-called public charge rule to now "incorporate consideration of more kinds of public benefits received", according to a news release from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
The new rule would "have the long-term benefit of protecting taxpayers by ensuring people who are immigrating to this country don't become public burdens, that they can stand on their own two feet, as immigrants in years past have done", Ken Cuccinelli, the acting director of US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) told Fox News in an interview.
Critics, however, complain the move makes it more hard for certain low-income immigrants to secure permanent residency.
Among adults in low-income families, the rate was found to be even higher, with one in five (20.7 percent) adults saying they were too frightened to seek out benefits for fear of negatively affecting their chances of securing positive results in their green card or visa applications.
The rule requires career admission officers to assess at a minimum each applicant's age, health, family status, assets, resources and financial status, and their education and skills, among other factors, Cuccinelli said at the briefing. But few people are rejected on these relatively narrow grounds, experts said.
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"As long as the public charge has been in effect since the late 1800s, there's also been, nearly as long, the words at the base of the Statue of Liberty that read, 'Give us your exhausted, your poor...' You're implementing a public charge rule for the first time", Portnoy said. Cuccinelli said this is necessary to make legal immigrants "self-sufficient and not reliant on the government to meet their needs".
"Legal. Undocumented. Refugee. Asylum Seeker".
Marielena Hincapie, of the National Immigration Law Center, described the proposed policy change as "President Trump's attempts to fundamentally transform our immigration system to favor the wealthy".
The change threatens to set back the citizenship hopes of millions of mostly Hispanic migrants who work for low wages and depend in part on public services to get by.
Immigrant advocates have expressed concern the rule could negatively affect public health by dissuading immigrants from using health or food aid to which they or their children are entitled and would have a "chilling effect" on immigrants seeking help for their USA citizen children.
Likeliness of becoming a public charge already is grounds to be denied a green card or the opportunity to become a USA citizen.
About one in seven adults in immigrant families reported that either the person or a family member did not participate in a non-cash safety net program previous year because of fear of risking his or her green card status in the future, an Urban Institute study found. "We have a long history of being one of the most welcoming nations in the world, on a lot of bases". The final rule is scheduled to be officially published on Wednesday and slated to go into effect in mid-October.