Equal Voice Action opposes the Trump administration’s proposed changes to the “public charge” rule regarding immigration. We call on members and allies to speak out and submit their public comments on this proposed regulation, which will hurt families and target the poor and people of color for exclusion and disinvestment. Read our statement below, and submit your comment now, through our ally People’s Action, before the period for public comment ends on December 10, 2018.
Equal Voice Action is a national family-led membership organization focused on eliminating social and economic inequality for families in the United States, in particular for poor and low-income families, who too often do not have a voice in policy making.
On October 10, 2018, the Trump administration proposed a radical revision of the “public charge” rule that has been part of federal immigration policy for decades. Equal Voice Action, a membership organization created by and for families, strongly opposes this proposal to redefine “public charge.”
Before this proposed change, legal permanent residency could be denied to immigrants who might become a “public charge” because cash assistance from the government was the majority of their income.
The current administration’s new proposed public charge rule would greatly expand reasons to deny green cards to immigrants, including the use of most forms of non-cash assistance that low-wage workers use for themselves and their children to live healthy lives, such as Medicaid, Medicare Part D low-income subsidies to purchase prescription drugs, food assistance (SNAP), and housing assistance.
The Trump administration’s proposal to expand the definition of who is considered a “public charge” would not only effectively block citizenship for many immigrants but would harm the health and well-being of immigrant families throughout the United States. In all cases, poor families – those who are already struggling – would be the most profoundly affected, with negative repercussions for our communities and country.
No family should live in poverty. Immigrant families, like all families, deserve dignity, respect, and fair treatment. The proposed rules would leave low-and moderate-income immigrant families with a horrible choice. If they apply for non-cash assistance to feed their children or access health care, they would be denied the chance to get a green card.
By punishing families that use assistance to eat healthy food, go to the doctor, or get affordable housing, the proposed regulation would hurt families and make our country sicker, hungrier, and poorer. The proposal has already caused widespread fear in immigrant communities and applications for non-cash assistance programs are down. The bottom line for this policy should not be measured in dollars, but in the value of human lives and the spirit of our most noble ideals as a nation.
Under the proposed changes, other factors would also be considered in determining who could become a “public charge.” Immigrants could be denied because their family incomes are below 250 percent of the federal poverty level, or nearly $63,000 for a family of four. This would turn non-earning family members, such as children and seniors, into liabilities. Such a scheme would favor wealthy immigrants over those with more modest means and those with larger extended families. Poor credit, which is endemic among poor families, and lack of English language fluency, would also be negative factors.
If these factors were accounted for earlier in our nation’s history, most people of German, Italian, Irish, or Jewish descent would have been denied entry, and our county would have suffered greatly due to the loss of these vital communities.
We are a nation of immigrants. By and large, immigrants strengthen and enrich our communities. They bring diversity, vibrancy, and determination in their search for a better life. And their net positive contribution to our economy is well-documented.
Despite politically charged narratives depicting immigrants as a drain on our collective resources, there is ample peer-reviewed social science research demonstrating that undocumented and first-generation immigrants contribute more in taxes than they collectively receive in government benefits.
By tying citizenship to wealth and the use of English, this proposal is deeply unjust in targeting poor families and families of color for exclusion and disinvestment. And its effects on the health and well-being of immigrant families, and the countless communities they contribute to across our country, would be damaging for generations to come.
Now, as ever, is the time to invest in families. Strong families make America stronger. And today’s immigrant families deserve the opportunity afforded to our own forebears – the opportunity to work hard, build community, and make a better life.
The public comment period regarding the Trump administration’s “public charge” regulation is open until December 10, 2018. Share your voice and submit your comment here.
For more information on “public charge,” see the following resources: