The Trump administration is considering reversing long-standing policy to make it easier to deport U.S. legal permanent residents who have used public benefits, part of an effort to restrict immigration by low-income people.
Scrolling down the list of my primary care patients, I wondered who might be affected. A pregnant woman from Cameroon. An elderly woman with brittle bones from the Dominican Republic. A man with cancer from Ecuador. The Trump administration’s proposal to deny green card status to people who use services like food assistance and Medicaid threaten several of my patients with a harrowing choice: their health, or their immigration status.
In a strange reversal from the way new regulations are usually put forward, the Department of Homeland Security released a draft of the rule a few weeks ago but hadn’t yet posted it in the federal register. When that happens today, it will kick off a 60-day public comment period where you can bet doctors and other health advocates will be pushing for DHS to back away from the changes the agency is seeking.
When she was offered a chance a few weeks ago to get a reduced-rent apartment through a city program, she turned it down. Instead, she stretches her budget to pay several hundred dollars a month more to rent somewhere else.
The ink isn’t yet dry on a controversial Trump administration proposal that could deny visas or permanent residency to immigrants who use public assistance programs, but some Los Angeles County officials are readying their opposition.
The Board of Supervisors is expected this week to consider sending a letter to federal leaders asserting that the proposed rule would cause “significant harm” to the county and its residents.
The Trump administration wants to change how the government defines who is or is likely to become a “public charge.” The Department of Homeland Security released a draft regulation on Sept. 22, in which it proposed that any immigrant who is likely to use or who has already used Medicaid, public housing or a rent voucher, cash assistance or food stamps could be barred from the country or kept from getting permanent resident status.
Half of immigrant-headed households use welfare. The United States should screen for self-supporting immigrants over immigrants who come here and consume welfare intended for needy Americans. The costs of entitlements are borne by young, working-age Americans, a generation increasingly shut out of homeownership and starting families.
Although these rumors were inaccurate, they were based on a widely reported development: the Trump Administration was considering ways to revamp the access that immigrants have to public benefits. That fact was enough to intimidate Arelii, given what she knew about Donald Trump. “These benefits were going to be a block on my son’s application,” she told me. “I was divided in two. To give my son a chance, I had to take something away from my daughter.”
If immigrants use a Section 8 housing voucher or buy groceries with SNAP, this revised regulation could label that person a “public charge” — a dependent on the government — and the Department of Homeland Security could deny her or him a green card. Further, if an immigrant left the United States for an extended period (perhaps to care for an ailing parent), the public charge label could also result in being permanently denied reentry.
Today, people who have immigrated here, like my parents, are facing another targeted, xenophobic attack. The Trump administration, which has already implemented a travel ban against five majority-Muslim countries — including Iran — and locked immigrant children in cages, proposed a new rule this month that would punish legal immigrants for accessing basic needs programs.