By Diali Avila, National Women’s Law Center
This weekend, the Administration announced that it plans to publish a proposed rule that would change longstanding rules for immigrants wanting to enter the United States or change their status to Legal Permanent Resident (LPR or better known as a “green card”). The rule would change the public charge determination that has been part of federal immigration law for years in a manner that is punitive and harsh, causing families to not only forego resources and benefits for which they are eligible, but to ultimately choose between accessing basic needs and reuniting with their loved ones.
The public charge determination under current law has meant people who depend primarily on government benefits as their main source of support. But the Administration is proposing to dramatically change the rule. If the rule the Department of Homeland Security announced this past weekend becomes final, immigrants seeking to enter the U.S. or change their status to legal permanent resident will be considered a “public charge” if they receive certain food, health care, or housing assistance and penalized for it. This means that if immigrants receive SNAP benefits, non-emergency Medicaid or Medicare Part D, or rental assistance, this will count against them in their visa application or status change.
We know these programs are accessed by many working families who depend on them to get food on the table or access health care. I can attest to how crucial these programs are to immigrant families like mine. Having access to these benefits can make a huge difference in a family’s quality of life and well-being.
Let’s make this clear: this proposed rule would be a radical change to our immigration system, which will put many families at risk and affect our country’s economy. Here’s a video explaining the public charge rule, a major threat to immigrant families.
For me, one thing is certain: families belong together and should have the same opportunities to thrive and live without discrimination. We should be outraged at this administration’s ongoing hostility towards immigrants and communities of color. And we will have an opportunity to make our voices heard: once the proposed rule is officially published, there will be a public comment period. That will be the time to let the administration know that this rule change would mean that families in this country will be hungrier, sicker, and in greater need.
The stakes are high for our communities. Let’s work together to ensure that as a nation, we value what everyone in this country contributes and how they live their lives, instead of only allowing wealthy families to thrive. Stay tuned and join us in this fight.