Washington, D.C. - January 24, 2019 - (The Ponder News) -- Over the weekend, the Trump administration released a proposed rule to dramatically expand how individuals’ use of critical health programs and services to meet basic living requirements like food and shelter may be evaluated to determine eligibility for green cards or admission to the United States. As stated in the proposed rule, a person may be denied admission to the US, lawful permanent resident (LPR) status or a visa extension on “public charge” grounds if they use certain health, nutrition, and housing programs.
These drastic proposed changes to how public charge is evaluated in the immigration system will have sweeping implications for how immigrant families access health care in the United States, potentially discouraging millions of eligible individuals from receiving medical attention, while exacerbating child poverty, hunger and homelessness. The publication of the proposed changes to public charge opens a 60-day comment period in which advocates and the public can respond.
Said Erin Quinn, Senior Staff Attorney at the Immigrant Legal Resource Center:
“Rather than allowing eligible families to access the support they need to stay healthy and thrive, the Trump administration is targeting the most vulnerable with this proposed rule. It would force immigrants to make the choice between receiving care to cover the basic needs for themselves and their families or endangering their immigration status. This is not a choice that any individual should have to make and it is one that betrays our country’s storied commitment to compassion and opportunity.
“This unacceptable proposal is the latest effort in this administration’s ongoing effort to dismantle a system that serves as a safety net for those trying to make a life in the United States. We all benefit from healthy communities and we should be protecting this already-underserved population, not threatening their ability to live legally in this country if they access the few assurances of health and safety available to them.
“This is the latest move in the Trump agenda to target people of color—but the narrow, outdated vision Trump promotes of who belongs no longer holds true as a majority of Americans support humane immigration policies. Furthermore, this proposed rule change undermines our communities and families--cornerstones of American life.”
Importantly, this proposed rule is not yet law. The ILRC joins other advocacy groups in submitting comments to the proposed rule change during the 60-day comment period. We will continue to work with immigrants and their families to ensure they do not forego critical benefits and services for which they are eligible. This rule change does not affect lawful permanent residents who are seeking naturalization. Unless and until this rule is enacted, immigrants can continue to use programs for which they qualify without any new immigration-related consequence.