By Bernard Wolfsdorf
1) Circumventing Congress, the proposal does a runaround Congress and bypasses the legislative process by radically changing who can immigrate to the U.S. The plan will leave hundreds of thousands malnourished, aggravate unmet health needs, and will have a devastating impact on immigrant families. Immigrants using vital programs such as Medicaid, (SNAP) Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, and Medicare’s prescription drug benefit could be denied green cards. With this plan, countless needy persons receiving benefits like public food assistance and housing vouchers could be deported.
2) An estimated 20 million children in immigrant families could be affected by the policy changes, according to a report by the Kaiser Family Foundation. Almost nine in 10 of those children are United States citizens.
3) This proposal is simply bad policy and it is no surprise to hear that White House aide Stephen Miller, architect of the administration’s child separation policy, is reported to have led this “public charge” effort with assistance from Ian M. Smith, a Department of Homeland Security analyst who resigned this week after he was confronted about his ties to white nationalist groups. This effort avoids congressional involvement and seeks to expand the “Public Charge” rule by penalizing more legal immigrants who use tax credits or accept government benefits. In a cruel endeavor, millions of poor immigrants who rely on public assistance for food and shelter will now have the difficult choice of refusing to accept financial help if seeking a green card.
4) Hundreds of thousands of poor immigrants and their U.S. citizen children will now be deprived of urgently needed benefits creating a potential health crisis for our nation. While the law has always required those seeking green cards to prove they will not be a burden and has considered the acceptance of cash benefits, it has never considered the use of other public benefits, like assistance for food.
5) The rule would affect people seeking to immigrate to the United States permanently and others here temporarily such as students and temporary workers. Many poor immigrants will be required to post cash bonds of at least $10,000 an astronomical sum for immigrants from many countries.
6) There are concerns poor immigrants have already begun withdrawing from public assistance programs where they lose assistance for food, shelter and medicine fearing they will be denied green cards and will be deported. This is a direct assault that results in a new “pay-to-play system” where only the wealthy can immigrate. Designed to restrict immigration from the poor, it is undoubtedly a runaround on Congress.
7) The proposed rule also deems certain health conditions including mental health disorders, heart disease and cancer to be heavily weighed factors. The proposal claims such immigrants have a high risk of becoming a public charge if unable to show evidence of unsubsidized health insurance. This is a sad and cruel trick on poor immigrants with health conditions who must prove that they are insured, but they cannot use the available benefits to enroll.
8) This direct attack on family seeking reunification punishes those who have waited years to be reunited with their love ones. One-fourth of children in America have at least one immigrant parent and this is a direct assault on their U.S. citizen children.
9) Public charge has a sordid history in the U.S. It has been used to keep out Jews fleeing Nazi Germany, Irish Catholics, LGBTQ people, people with disabilities, and unmarried women, among others. 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.
10) This proposal is inconsistent with core American values as it restricts family immigration and prevents families from being reunited, getting a green card, or even becoming naturalized citizens. It is cruel and heartless and evil. If this is enacted it will be a sad day for our great nation.