WASHINGTON (UrduPoint News / Sputnik - 12th August, 2019) The Trump administration will penalize immigrants who use or may potentially use welfare benefits in the United States in a move to curb legal immigration, media reported on Monday.

Immigrants who apply to become permanent residents of the United States may be denied such status and other immigration benefits if they use food assistance, housing vouchers or other forms of public welfare benefits, the Washington Post reported.

The report called the practice of denying permanent residency status one of President Donald Trump's most significant immigration moves to date.

President and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, Vanita Gupta, said Trump's agenda has always been focused on ensuring the racial and cultural makeup of the United States never changes.

"The Trump administration is attacking ALL immigrants to try to redefine who belongs in this country as our demographics change. Hurting most vulnerable among us is a gross tactic in this agenda" Gupta said via Twitter on Monday.

On May 17, Trump presented his administration's plan for a new merit-based legal immigration system that will increase the proportion of high-skilled immigrants allowed entry in the United States from 12 percent to 57 percent.

An increasing number of migrants from Central America have been arriving to the US border with Mexico in recent months. Trump has called the surge of arrivals a crisis and declared a national emergency in February in order to secure funds to build a border wall to stem the tide of illegal immigration.

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