On October 10, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) posted a proposed public charge rule for comment in the Federal Register. The proposed rule would change the threshold for becoming what the government defines as “public charge.” The proposed policy would expand the list of benefits considered in a public charge determination, so that immigrants who are deemed likely to use certain healthcare, nutrition, and housing programs could become inadmissible to obtain citizenship or change the status of their visa. Below are IEL’s public comments strongly opposing this proposed rule.
December 10, 2018
Submitted via www.regulations.gov
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
Department of Homeland Security
20 Massachusetts Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20529-2140
Re: DHS Docket No. USCIS-2010-0012, RIN 1615-AA22, Comments in Response to Proposed Rulemaking: Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds
The Institute for Educational Leadership is a nonprofit organization that prepares leaders to eliminate systemic barriers to education and workforce development and create the conditions including policies necessary for everyone to succeed. We write in strong opposition to the proposed rule regarding public charge determinations as published in the Federal Register as these changes would not eliminate barriers to opportunity but create new ones and further disadvantage many immigrant children and families who, like all of us, are working to build meaningful and fulfilling lives.
By expanding the programs deeming non-citizen immigrants eligible to become a “public charge” to include Medicaid, nutrition assistance through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and housing assistance such as Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers, Section 8 Project Based Rental Assistance and Public Housing, the DHS is forcing families to make a terrible choice: between pursuing legal immigration status with greater odds now stacked against them, and providing for themselves and their children partially through these critical programs.
Parents who are at-risk of becoming a “public charge” under this proposed rule may choose not to pursue access to the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) for their children but may not be able to afford alternate health care for them. Additionally, these same parents may avoid participation in other programs not included in the new proposed definition due to fear or a spread of misinformation. These programs include:
- School-based Medicaid services,
- Free and reduced-price lunch program,
- Federally funded early childhood education like Head Start, and
- Afterschool and summer programs funded by the Child Care Development Block Grant and 21st Century Community Learning Centers.
Above all, this proposed rule is grossly unjust for the children of these immigrant families who, through these actions, could be denied supports critical for their safety and well-being, like medical care, food, and a roof over their heads. Simply put, this proposed rule would punish children born to non-citizen immigrant parents simply because of their parents’ immigration status. Under current immigration law, many immigrant households with children are not eligible for assistance programs due to their immigration status. As a result, children in immigrant families are more likely to be living in low-income households than children in U.S.-born families. This rule would only exacerbate this disparity by further limiting access to these programs for immigrant families with children.
And DHS even admits that the rule will result in “increased rates of poverty” among other harm, yet fails to account for this in its cost-benefit analysis, treating this instead as a “non-monetized cost.” This failure to account for increased poverty suggests an indifference from DHS of the widespread negative toll these changes would have on our nation’s already most vulnerable children and families.
Please do the right thing for our children, families, and communities and do not implement these proposed rules.
Johan E. Uvin
Institute for Educational Leadership