The Department of Homeland Security recently issued a proposed rule changing the definition of what it means to be a “public charge.” These new rules could potentially impact the life and well-being of millions of immigrant families. Currently immigrants must meet several requirements before obtaining permanent residency and citizenship.
An assessment of whether an immigrant is a “public charge” evaluates whether that person will rely on public assistance. The new rules greatly expand the definition of what qualifies as a public charge; and if finalized, will penalize tax-paying immigrants’ families and create an immigration system that prioritizes the wealthy few over families working to secure a future in the United States.
These changes target immigrant families specifically and, in effect, create a second class of citizens, who, even though they are working and living the US, are not granted access to essential services. This includes access to non-emergency Medicaid, and Medicare Part D, access to nutrition assistance and housing support. An expanded unnecessary change in the public charge definition means that many immigrant families will be forced to choose between using essential public assistance needed to keep their family healthy, or the opportunity to receive or maintain their legal immigration status.
As people of faith living out our call to welcome immigrants, we must speak up and let the Administration know that it is unacceptable for these proposed rules to be finalized. We must instead work on polices that raise us all up as a country and that welcome and encourage the immigrant families among us.
You can help by writing a public comment opposing the rule. The deadline is December 10 and having a significant number of comments will impact the final rule. You don’t need to be an expert to submit a comment, just share your story about how the rule could affect your community and congregation. Be sure to include the docket number, DHS Docket No. USCIS-2010-0012, then state your opposition to the rule and ask for it to be withdrawn. You can use the link below or you can also submit a comment directly on the Regulations.gov website for DHS Docket No. USCIS-2010-001.