Poverty, Hunger, Unmet Health Care Needs Would Result from Trump Backdoor Immigration Restrictions

Families Forced to Choose Between Their Loved Ones and Meeting Basic Needs, Under Regulatory Change

WASHINGTON, FEBUARY, 8, 2018 – Reuters today reported that the Trump Administration is developing regulations that would force families to choose between meeting basic needs and reuniting with their loved ones or obtaining a green card.

This latest in a series of efforts by the Administration to dramatically restrict family-based immigration would take the form of a change to the regulations implementing the “public charge” provision of federal immigration law. Under the leaked proposal, any person whose family is served in the future by a wide range of human services programs – from early childhood education, home heating assistance, and health coverage, to transportation vouchers and anti-hunger benefits—could have their immigration status threatened. Under current policy, only cash “welfare” and long-term care can be taken into consideration, and only the applicant’s. The proposed rule would expand scrutiny to include the applicant’s family, as well.

Reacting to the draft regulation, the National Immigration Law Center (NILC) and the anti-poverty Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) released the following joint statement by NILC Senior Health Policy Analyst Jenny Rejeske and CLASP Senior Policy Analyst Madison Hardee:

“President Trump is trying to achieve through the back door what he hasn’t been able to sell in Congress: sweeping restrictions on family immigration and punitive policies that would disproportionately harm people of color.

This dangerous proposal would force families, including citizen children, to choose between getting the help they need – like Head Start, food assistance, medical care, and housing assistance – and obtaining a secure immigration status for themselves or their families. What’s even more insidious is that – yet again – the Trump Administration is going around Congress to attack immigrant families.

Immigrants are part of our national DNA – they’re our families and our classmates and our neighbors. If we want our communities to thrive, all of the families in those communities have be able to get the care and services they need to thrive.

The good news is that the Trump Administration can’t just do this on their own. Federal law guarantees the American people a chance to weigh in on this dangerous idea, and it gives Congress final approval over any major regulatory change. We stand in solidarity with immigrant families and will organize a strong, vocal opposition to this discriminatory proposal. Americans and their elected leaders must send a clear message: when government puts your family at risk if you feed your kids or put a roof over their head, that doesn’t build a stronger nation – it makes every problem we face worse.”