Trump’s Proposed Immigration Rule Would Harm All of Us
THE TORCH: CONTENTSBy Jenny Rejeske, NILC, and Madison Hardee, CLASP
MARCH 29, 2018
On March 28, the Washington Post reported on the latest chapter in the saga of the Trump administration’s attacks on immigrant families—a pernicious attempt to force families to make an impossible choice between meeting their basic needs for health care, food and shelter, and keeping their family in the United States. The administration isn’t trumpeting this change through press releases or tweets, nor is it demanding that Congress make these changes. Instead, it is using federal rulemaking to quietly make changes that would have devastating consequences for all our communities.
As detailed by the Washington Post, the Trump administration is gearing up to propose changes to how the government determines which immigrants can stay on the path toward citizenship. If the administration gets its way, factors like income, number of children, or any use of programs that help people meet basic needs—even for short periods of time—would make you ineligible to bring your family to the United States, and could affect your ability to get a green card. In short, the proposed rule would punish lawfully present families who attempt to access basic human needs like food and health care—including for their U.S. citizen children.
The proposed rule would instruct immigration agents to consider whether an immigrant or a member of their family is likely to participate in any governmental assistance program when determining who can enter the U.S. or become a permanent resident. Imagine a mom and her child being forced to live in a different country than dad because the parents thought it was important for their child have health insurance through the Children’s Health Insurance Program.
This goes against our most basic values as a nation and betrays the immigration heritage so many of us share. Many of our nation’s top doctors, scientists, inventors and entrepreneurs—as well as many of us—are the children, grandchildren, or great-grandchildren of immigrants who came to this country with little more than the clothes on their backs and dreams for a better future. This proposed rule makes the pursuit of that dream impossible, and would leave all our communities worse off.
For almost two decades, U.S. immigration officials have explicitly reassured eligible immigrant families that participation in programs like Medicaid and SNAP (food stamps) would not affect their ability to become permanent residents and, eventually, U.S. citizens. The proposed rule would upend over a century of existing policy and practice.
The Trump administration doesn’t stop there. It goes after an immigrant’s lawful use of tax credits like the Earned Income Tax Credit and Affordable Care Act subsidies, effectively penalizing immigrant families who pay taxes and expect to be treated like any other taxpayer. Imagine denying someone’s green card because they claimed a tax credit for which they were eligible.
The proposed changes represent a major step backward, pulling the entire safety net out from under taxpaying immigrant families, treating their children as second-class citizens, and putting them at greater risk of falling into poverty. Based on our research, we already know the consequences of the administration anti-immigration policies. This proposed rule change would cause even more children go hungry and lose access to basic health care. If it moves forward, the rule will have ripple-effects on the health, development, and economic outcomes of generations to come.
But we can fight back. All rules must go through a public comment period. All of us, regardless of where we were born or how much money we have, should have access to the same tools we need to thrive. We need to remind the federal government that its job is to make all of us stronger together, not to push us further apart.