Rule changes threaten immigrant families

The proposed policies weaponize public assistance

May 23, 2019


Here's what you need to know

The Department of Justice (DOJ) and Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced two new rule changes to existing policy that continue the Trump administration’s calculated targeting of immigrants. The new rule proposed by DOJ pertains to the government Public Charge classification, and would make it significantly easier to deport immigrants who have used public benefits such as Medicaid, food stamps, housing aid or welfare. The rule proposed by HUD, Verification of Eligible Status, would make it significantly more difficult to access public housing programs for mixed-status families. Mixed-status families are households with members who are both eligible and ineligible for housing assistance based on their immigration status. These rule changes are the administration’s latest attempts to coerce immigrants into either leaving the United States or never coming in the first place. However, there is still time to stop these rules from coming into effect. 

Here are the details

The DHS’s public charge rule -- which we wrote on last year -- has not yet gone into effect. But already negatively impacts immigrant communities. In Texas, the mere proposal of the public charge rule change contributed to a roughly 150,000 person decline in Medicaid enrollment. Across the country, immigrant families are relying less on public assistance programs. Their health and well-being are suffering in the process. These harms are real. One in seven adults in immigrants report “chilling effects” in their use of public assistance programs. The policies which create these harms rely on the disproven idea that the country is too “full” to accommodate current immigration levels. In fact, immigrants are a boon to both the economy and the national character. Despite this, DHS is reportedly working tirelessly to finalize the new rule. If their efforts are successful, any foreigner “who receives one or more public benefits” would suffer, as would their families and the country as a whole.

The latest rule change to public charge proposed by DOJ pick up right where DHS left off. The changes to public charge proposed by DHS impact immigrants seeking admission to the United States. Those proposed by DOJ impact immigrants that are already vetted and admitted. They would allow the government to deport those who qualify as a public charge. Together, these two rule changes would comprehensively punish immigrants simply for accessing programs that are needed for basic survival. The DOJ’s proposed rule change will be available soon for public comment.

The HUD’s proposed rule change fits with those from both DOJ and DHS. It forces mixed-status families in need of assistance to either break up, forego assistance, or be terminated from the programs on which they rely. If passed, it would subject more than 55,000 children to possible eviction, regardless of if they are U.S. citizens or otherwise eligible for housing benefits. The Trump administration has already made other cuts to housing assistance. The new rule would only make it more difficult for private housing providers to participate in housing assistance programs. Altogether, these rule changes make the Trump administration appear unconcerned with helping immigrants or the country.This administration is engendering fear and chaos among immigrants, their families and the country as a whole.

These changes to U.S. immigration policy reflect the beliefs of White House Senior Advisor Stephen Miller, their principal architect. The centrality of Stephen Miller to this administration’s immigration policies is well documented, as are his white nationalist beliefs. here now exists a broad-based campaign to disavow Stephen Miller and defund these rule changes.

 

What can you do?

  1. Support alternative legislation: In the House, Congresswoman Sylvia Garcia (D-TX) introduced H.R. 2763, a bill which would block the newly proposed HUD rule.
  2. Make your opposition heard: You can also submit a public comment opposing the HUD rule change through the #KeepFamiliesTogether portal.
  3. Leave public comments opposing the DOJ’s proposed rule change. We will alert you to any next steps when their proposed rule change goes public.

 

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