Community-Based Health Center & Immigrants Rights Groups Condemn “Public Charge” Rule

Health Disparities, Immigrant Rights, Racial Justice

Lawyers for Civil Rights (LCR) submitted comments opposing the Trump Administration’s proposed rule improperly expanding the definition of “public charge” to deny immigration protection to those seeking legal permanent residence and other relief. The comments were joined by:

  • MGH—Chelsea HealthCare Center
  • Brazilian Worker Center;
  • Chelsea Collaborative;
  • East Boston Ecumenical Community Council (EBECC);
  • Hyde Square Task Force;
  • Inquilinos Boricuas en Acción Boston (IBA);
  • Justice at Work; and
  • Sociedad Latina.

The proposed rule will render thousands of immigrants—most of them people of color—ineligible for immigration protection. In so doing, the Trump Administration will change the face and demographic composition of legal immigration and accomplish one of its most insidious and hateful goals: reducing the number of family-sponsored immigrants of color from Africa, Asia, and Latin America, and increasing the number of white, wealthy immigrants from Canada and Europe.

“The proposed policy is unconstitutional because the federal government is using public assistance as a proxy for race,” said Ivan Espinoza-Madrigal, Executive Director of LCR. “It will also create an unprecedented financial litmus test to qualify for immigration protection and relief. Never before have green cards been available only to the highest bidders. This is far beyond anything contemplated by Congress and the American people.”

Under the guise of promoting “self-sufficiency,” the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will find applicants who receive life-saving public benefits—including nonemergency Medicaid, Section 8 housing assistance, and food stamps—inadmissible to the United States as “public charges.”

“The idea that penalizing use of the social safety net will make non-citizens—many of whom are heads of household and workers—more self-sufficient is simply wrong,” said Lauren Sampson, Civil Rights Fellow at LCR. “DHS ignores the fact that the vast majority of enrollees in public assistance programs are employed, and that many non-citizens who already live and work in the United States are paying state, local, and federal taxes that prop up these public programs.”

It is cruel and un-American to force non-citizen families to choose between access to life-saving benefits and immigration relief. But the Trump Administration has openly celebrated the possibility that non-citizens will leave these programs, despite the catastrophic effect disenrollment would have on the country’s healthcare, educational, and employment costs.

Because of the devastating impact upon communities of color, as well as the costs to the U.S. as a whole, LCR urges DHS to abandon this discriminatory, irrational, and cruel policy.

The comments are available here:

Comments on Proposed Rule