The Partnership's Public Charge Comments

December 8, 2018 -- Heather Appel

The Partnership for Working Families, a national network 19 local community-based grassroots organizations, is strongly opposed to Department of Homeland Security’s proposed change to the "public charge” rule.  The proposed regulation would devastate all of our communities by making immigrant families afraid to access essential health, nutrition and shelter programs. Immigrant communities, long the target of attacks by the Trump Administration, persistently live in fear of seeking supports they need, regardless of whether they are actually subject to the “public charge” test.

Our country is stronger when we join together across racial differences, like we’ve done in our past in fighting for civil rights or better wages and working conditions.

These anti-immigrant measures are fundamentally racist and harmful to communities across the country. Similar to the termination of DACA, and Temporary Protected Status (TPS)  for immigrants from economically and politically devastated countries, the cruel family separation policy and the Muslim ban, this proposed rule represents an attempt to close America’s doors to all but the highest bidder. Communities of color would be  disproportionately impacted by the proposed rule. Accordingly to figures from the Kaiser Family Foundation, 91 percent of individuals who did not enter the U.S. with legal permanent status are from Latin America, Asia or Africa. Of these individuals, one in four is a parent, so the proposed rule would almost certainly impact  families with children.

By threatening loss of immigration status as a consequence of accessing important benefits to which they are entitled, the proposed rule would do harm to all of us. The proposed regulation would make immigrant families afraid to seek access to healthy food, health care, and housing. This fear would extend far beyond people who may be subject to the “public charge” test. It would harm entire communities as well as the infrastructure that serves everyone in the U.S.. We do not want our community members, who contribute to the cultural, political and economic fabric of our cities, to live in the shadows. Nearly all individuals potentially impacted by the proposed rule (94 percent) have at least one characteristic that could potentially weigh negatively in adjusting their immigration status and one in four are already enrolled in a public program that the rule identifies as a public benefit. Our lives in this country should be defined by how we contribute to our communities, not how much money we have. The new “public charge” regulation puts wealth ahead of family reunification for those seeking a path to citizenship. Our immigration system must be compassionate towards the millions of immigrants that make the United States home. Failing this test, the proposed regulation wrongly and inaccurately divides people into permanent classes of contributors and non-contributors.

If the proposed rule moves forward, it will have negative ripple effects on the health, development, and economic outcomes of generations to come.

Submit your own public comment here by December 10, 2018.