On Monday, Ken Cuccinelli, acting director of the Citizenship and Immigration Services office, told reporters during a White House press briefing that this policy "encourages and ensures self-reliance and self-sufficiency" for those who want to settle permanently in the U.S.
The sweeping 837-page rule, which has been in the works for a year, will be effective October 13.
Earlier this year, President Donald Trump also issued a memorandum doubling down on a current law that requires immigrants' sponsors to take financial responsibility for certain income-based government benefits the immigrant receives.
The National Immigration Law Center tweeted that the rule is "a race motivated wealth test" and said, "We WILL fight back". "A poor person can be prepared to be self sufficient", he said.
"President Trump is enforcing this longstanding law to prevent aliens from depending on public benefit programs", the White House said, adding that the Immigration and Nationality Act makes clear that those seeking to come to the United States can not be a public charge.
The rule expands the range of disqualifying programs to include receiving welfare benefits, food stamps, and public housing.
The Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights in Los Angeles says the biggest toll will be on vulnerable populations with limited means.
"When USCIS creates a dozen-plus factor test and leaves it to adjudicators, backed by extreme anti-immigration rhetoric, they will know what levers they're supposed to pull", said Rand.
"The important thing to note here is that the vast majority of people affected by the public charge rule will have never used public benefits and probably never will - they will be rejected under the "prospective" criteria that demand English proficiency, small family size, middle-class income, etc", he added. Before that, Conservative Review's Daniel Horowitz lays out, America had a long history of prudentially restricting immigration based on the potential that a newcomer might not be self-sufficient once admitted. The government anticipates that the policy change will result in an increase in the number of denials for immigration status changes, according to the filing, and analysts say it will likely reduce family-based legal immigration to the US from Central and South American countries, as well as from African nations.
Homeland Security officials say they made a series of changes to the proposed rules following 266,000 public comments.
As many as 78 per cent of households headed by a non-citizen with no more than a high school education use at least one welfare program. "The basic idea is we shouldn't be letting people move here that can't pay their own bills".
"A lot of people aren't even close", he explained".
What does the Trump administration plan to do?.
Pro-immigration groups have already vowed to get the courts involved.
Xavier Becerra, the attorney general of California, called the rule "vile" in a tweet and said it is an "attack on families and lower income communities of color", and threatened "to take legal action to protect the rights of all Californians".
Cuccinelli said the new rule would affect about 400,000 immigrants each year - and it won't affect those now seeking asylum in the United States.