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NM weighs response to new immigration rule

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In this July 9, 2019, file photo, New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham provides a progress report on her first six months in office during a news conference in Santa Fe. (AP Photo/Susan Montoya Bryan)

SANTA FE — Top executives under Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham are exploring how to respond to a new Trump administration rule that targets legal immigrants who either receive public benefits or are deemed likely to in the future.

Under the new rule, set to take effect Oct. 15, the federal government will weigh whether someone has received public assistance — or is likely to — when considering their application for a green card, or legal permanent status.

Lujan Grisham said the administration is targeting immigrants out of spite, even if they entered the country legally.

“It’s unconscionable and cruel,” she said. “We must explore every available avenue for fighting this rule.”

In New Mexico, more than 77,000 children who are U.S. citizens live with at least one immigrant parent and are in a family that receives basic food assistance, according to the state Human Services Department.

Human Services Secretary David Scrase said the new federal rule will force “poor immigrant families to make difficult choices: either accept lifesaving medical and needed food assistance or forgo vital services to keep their family together.”

The Trump administration contends the new rules will ensure immigrants are self-sufficient and won’t rely on the welfare system.