For Immediate Release
September 24, 2018
Individual contacts available for interested media
Lansing—Leaders of the Protecting Immigrant Families campaign, led by the Michigan Immigrant Rights Center, Michigan League for Public Policy and the Arab American Community Center for Economic and Social Services, issued the following statements on the devastating proposed “public charge” rule that was shared in a press release by the Department of Homeland Security on Sept. 22, 2018.
Federal law allows immigration and consular authorities to deny admissions to the United States or adjustment to Lawful Permanent Resident status to a person they deem likely to become a public charge. Under the current definition, a public charge is a person who is primarily dependent on the government for subsistence.
The Trump administration is expected to soon issue a divisive new proposed regulation targeting immigrant families by radically expanding the definition of public charge. This policy is an extension of the Trump administration’s larger immigration efforts that have torn families apart, and worse yet, this move circumvents Congress by making its own rules through the administrative process.
In its press release Saturday, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced the proposed rule would be published in the coming weeks for a 60-day public comment period. Commenters will not be required to provide their address or information about their immigration status. National advocates will post updates on http://www.protectingimmigrantfamilies.org, as available.
This proposed change endangers the well-being of thousands of Michigan immigrants and their families. If ultimately approved, the new rule would punish those who access important services like healthcare, food assistance and housing. Under these changes, families that access those services could risk their chance to seek permanent immigration status and face deportation.
Hospitals and healthcare providers could face severe financial burdens if immigrants or their family members who are eligible for publicly-funded insurance refuse to enroll in programs like Medicaid. Child development would also be impacted significantly if families feel forced to choose between enrolling in programs like SNAP and Section 8 housing vouchers, which help improve well-being, or continuing their path to citizenship.
Gilda Z. Jacobs, Michigan League for Public Policy CEO—“We were disheartened to hear that the federal government announced it is proposing a new public charge rule. This is another attempt to punish hard-working immigrant families in Michigan and across the United States. This rule would make it harder for immigrant families to access the care they need without jeopardizing their path to citizenship. If implemented, this rule could lead to mass disenrollment from vital public services for thousands of families. We must act swiftly to stop this dangerous proposal and protect Michigan families.”
Susan E. Reed, Michigan Immigrant Rights Center Managing Attorney—“This move by the administration is part of its ongoing effort to end a cherished American tradition: family-based immigration. Public charge is an arcane concept in the immigration law designed to exclude those who are feared likely to become primarily dependent on the government for subsistence. Presently, the test is narrow. If the proposed rule is adopted, benefits that could be considered in a public charge determination would include Medicaid, SNAP (food stamps), and housing assistance. It would further include stringent income requirements, and penalize applicants with physical or mental health conditions that could affect their ability to work, attend school or care for themselves.”
Hassan Jaber, Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services (ACCESS) Executive Director and CEO —“Michigan has long been a place where immigrants and refugees have found community, family and opportunity. This proposed rule would harm those communities, and the very families we have worked to support and uplift. While some immigrant families need support initially, that support is insignificant compared to the contributions they have made in Michigan and across the United States. Additionally, this cruel proposal would force families to make the impossible decision of getting the care they need or obtaining a green card or visa to enter or remain in the country. Furthermore, not only is the rule inhumane, it would also present a significant financial and administrative burden to Michigan direct service providers and hospitals who serve our communities every single day. Rather than punishing families and burdening direct service providers, our government should allow immigrant families to integrate fully into our economy and communities, as many have successfully done in the past. Allowing these changes to public charge will not only weaken, hurt and separate immigrant families, but will negatively impact our economy as well.”