For decades, people have traveled to the United States in search of better lives. Some arrive with little money, but work hard to provide brighter futures for their families.

Due to a new federal rule, these futures may now be harder to reach.

In a 5-4 vote, the U.S. Supreme Court recently passed “wealth test” rules for immigrants. These rules allow officials to deny legal immigrants green cards if they suspect immigrants would overuse or rely on public benefits. Examples of benefits include Medicaid, food stamps and housing assistance.

It’s important to note that the rules do not apply to refugees or others seeking asylum in the United States.

The rule change is meant to protect benefits for American citizens. It’s also meant to ensure that immigrants are financially independent. However, many people believe it’s discriminatory.

It could encourage officials to harshly judge immigrants based on their bank accounts, rather than their character. It also goes against America’s history of accepting immigrants regardless of their wealth.

The new rules have “positive” and “negative” factors for immigration officers to consider as they review green card applications. Negative factors may threaten your chance of getting a green card. These include:

  • Being unemployed
  • Not completing high school
  • Not being fluent in English

Also, if you’ve used public benefits for 12 months total in the past three years, you may be at risk.

Some fear that the rule change will endanger immigrant families – and their U.S. citizen children – who need public assistance. Others worry it will place a burden on food banks and emergency healthcare. It may force immigrants to rely on these resources instead of public assistance.

Altogether, the new rules have the ability to transform the way immigration in the U.S. looks. Not only could they negatively impact immigrants seeking permanent residency – they could have a harmful effect on the entire nation.