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US Immigrants Stop Using Public Benefits Over Fears of New Trump Rule
Written by <a href="index.php?option=com_comprofiler&task=userProfile&user=21602"><span class="small">Amanda Holpuch, Guardian UK</span></a>   
Thursday, 27 September 2018 12:37

Holpuch writes: "US immigrants have begun to remove themselves from public housing waiting lists, childcare subsidy programs and the food stamp program - out of fears that a rule proposed on Saturday night could jeopardize their immigration status."

Immigrants applying for citizenship at a class in Los Angeles. (photo: Mario Tama/Getty)
Immigrants applying for citizenship at a class in Los Angeles. (photo: Mario Tama/Getty)


US Immigrants Stop Using Public Benefits Over Fears of New Trump Rule

By Amanda Holpuch, Guardian UK

27 September 18


Critics attack ‘public charge rule’ that would make it harder for people to get visas or green cards if they have used public benefits

S immigrants have begun to remove themselves from public housing waiting lists, childcare subsidy programs and the food stamp program – out of fears that a rule proposed on Saturday night could jeopardize their immigration status.

The Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) “public charge rule” would make it more difficult for people to qualify for green cards and other visas if they use or have used public benefits. Immigrants began purging themselves from public assistance programs when a draft version of the rule leaked earlier this year.

“No matter what the final rule ends up being, in a lot of ways since February, the damage has already been done,” said Carlyn Cowen of the Chinese American Planning Council (CPC) in New York City, a social services agency that helps 60,000 New Yorkers every year.

Cowen said that to offset the costs from losing benefits, people are taking additional jobs, either in the formal or informal job market, and moving in with other families.

“It’s forcing families to choose between risking the immigration status of them and their loved ones or meeting their basic needs,” she said.

A “public charge” is a person who is dependent on a certain set of public benefits. The Trump administration’s rule would dramatically expand the definition to include people using, or who the government determines may one day use, a wider scope of benefits – even if they are not completely dependent on those services.

In the 450-page proposed rule, the DHS said factors that could negatively affect someone’s visa application include being younger than 18 or older than 61, having a medical condition that is likely to require extensive medical treatment, or a lack of a high school diploma or higher education.

The department said it would weigh the “totality of the circumstances” and meeting one of the factors would not necessarily block someone from getting a visa.

But critics, including doctors, said they opposed the policy because it targets poorer and unemployed Americans and those with health problems.

Darrell Kirch , the president of the Association of American Medical Colleges, said: “We urge the Department of Homeland Security not to finalize this rule that seeks to overturn decades of settled policy.”

Alison Hirsh of the service union 32BJ SEIU, which has 163,000 members, said: “The proposed ‘public charge’ rule is a shameful attempt to punish working-class immigrants for accessing the healthcare, housing and nutrition programs they need to support their families and survive in our country.”

Douglas Rand, who worked on immigration policy in the Obama White House, said the rule was “a breathtakingly ambitious attempt to reshape the legal immigration system without an act of Congress”.

He said: “Never in our history have we in this country said you have to be middle class to be an American. Never have we ever said you have to be in perfect health, you have to have a completely spotless credit history, you have to be working age – these are all huge departures from precedent.”

Rand, who co-founded Boundless Immigration, a technology company that helps clarify the immigration process, said the proposal was filled with small details “designed to ensnare hundreds of thousands if not millions of people who would otherwise have been perfectly eligible for green cards or other visas”.

The expansion would go as far as to penalize people for using visa fee waivers, which are prominently advertised on US government sites for people seeking information on the immigration process. It could also force 200,000 married couples each year to either leave the US or live apart indefinitely, according to Boundless.

“A very large number of people who meet in the US and fall in love, won’t be able to stay together,” Rand said.

Before the rule can become official, it must be published in the federal register. It will then face a 60-day public comment period. Critics plan to flood the agency tasked with reviewing the rule, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), with public comments it is legally required to sift through.

Cowen said the CPC alone plans for its 4,000-person staff, as well as its supporters, to write individual letters challenging the proposal.

“This administration has been so wildly unpredictable, and the only thing that really is predictable is that they are targeting immigrants and trying to separate immigrant families,” she said. “So it’s difficult for community organizations to balance – how do we tell people make sure your family stays healthy because right now your benefits aren’t at risk with the potential future risk?”

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+1 # wilhelmscream 2018-09-27 13:48
This is an assault on Immigrant's Rights! What’s next, an assault on Fast Food workers?