By National Domestic Workers Alliance (NDWA)
This press release was shared on September 23, 2018 by National Domestic Workers Alliance, along with the Center for Law and Social Policy, the National Immigration Law Center, and the Center for American Progress, to speak out against proposed changes in the federal government’s “public charge” policy for immigrants that would undermine the health and well-being of poor and low-income families.
WASHINGTON – The Trump Administration is soon expected to circumvent Congress, proposing regulations to effectively restrict immigration access based on income. Widely reported by the press, the regulation would put people at risk of immigration denials if they use Medicaid, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, Medicare’s prescription drug benefit, or other programs. Experts warn that the plan would worsen hunger, unmet health needs, and other problems by making immigrant families — including families with children — afraid to get the help they need. Advocates for economic opportunity and immigrant families charged that the proposal would put wealthy immigrants ahead of families and expands a policy that has been historically abused.
White House aide Stephen Miller, architect of the Administration’s child separation policy, is reported to have led the “public charge” effort. News reports also indicate that the proposal was also developed by an advisor who has personal relationships “with prominent white supremacists and racists.” Historians have warned that public charge regulations have been abused in the past to deny otherwise-eligible applicants access to lawful immigration avenues, based on race and religion. Because it would almost exclusively affect family-based immigrants, the Trump proposal will disproportionately affect families of color, especially Latinos.
Federal law requires that the Administration give the public an opportunity to comment on this expansive proposal, when and if it is formally proposed. Commenters will not be required to give their address or divulge their immigration status. Advocates will post updates on www.protectingimmigrantfamilies.org, as available.
Responding to the Administration’s move, the Center for Law and Social Policy, the National Immigration Law Center, the Center for American Progress and the National Domestic Workers Alliance issued the following statements:
“The proposal is reckless, deeply unfair, and inconsistent with core American values. It explicitly places a priority on well-off families and ignores families who have waited years to be reunited. This proposal says work and family don’t matter — only money matters. And at a time when one-fourth of children in America has at least one immigrant parent, it’s a direct attack on children. The good news is that by rising up together and fighting back—as we have done against other attacks—we can speak up for immigrant families,” said Olivia Golden, Executive Director of the Center for Law and Social Policy.
“The Trump administration is trying to achieve through the back door what it hasn’t been able to do through Congress, which is to radically reform the legal immigration system. Through this rule, they want to restrict family immigration as the use of certain programs can prevent families from being reunited, getting a green card, or even becoming naturalized citizens,” said Marielena Hincapié, Executive Director of the National Immigration Law Center.
“My immigrant mother worked hard to build a better life for herself and her children. But if this proposal had been in place, she likely wouldn’t have had that opportunity, and I wouldn’t be here today. Now, with the flick of a pen, the Trump administration hopes to deny others a chance at the American Dream. The changes to the public charge provision would fundamentally alter our system for family-based immigration. Public charge has a sordid history. It was abused in the past to keep out Jews fleeing Nazi Germany, Irish Catholics, LGBTQ people, people with disabilities, and unmarried women, among others. Once again, President Trump is prioritizing wealth over family and—just like his policy of tearing thousands of children from their parents at the border—undermining the fundamental values of our nation,” said Neera Tanden, President of the Center for American Progress.
“This is Trump’s latest plot to keep separating families. He is willing to put over 20 million children at risk of malnutrition and disease, just to push his anti-immigrant agenda. This change in rules will punish millions of low-income mothers like domestic workers who take care of our loved ones and our homes, yet often struggle to make enough to take care of their own families and rely on our democracy to keep their families healthy and safe. No parent should have to choose between feeding their children or keeping their family together. Tearing families apart is a choice that we don’t have to keep making,” said Ai-jen Poo, Director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance and Co-chair of the Families Belong Together campaign.
National Domestic Workers Alliance organizes domestic workers in the United States for respect, recognition and labor standards. The Alliance, formed in 2007 at the US Social Forum, currently represents more than 60 affiliates in 26 cities and 18 states nationally.
To learn more about the issue of “public charge,” read the Equal Voice News post, “Will ‘Public Charge’ Block Citizenship for Immigrants?“