Today, the Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia submitted comments to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security stating our strong opposition to proposed regulations governing the “public charge determination” for immigrants and their families. The proposed rule would treat receipt of essential public benefits (such as Medicaid, SNAP and Section 8 housing subsidies), low income, poor health, being young or elderly and lack of English proficiency (among other factors) as negative factors in assessing an immigrant’s application for lawful permanent resident status.
As we said in our comments,
The proposed ‘public charge’ rule represents a radical change in current policy that would cause grave harm to individuals, families, and communities in the District of Columbia and nationwide. The proposed rule is contrary to our nation’s expressed values regarding the individual rights and worth of all persons. Specifically, by emphasizing and weighing factors such as age, health, English language proficiency, and level of education and skills, the proposed rule invariably shifts away from our traditional, long-standing family-based immigration system. The additional discretion that the proposed rule contemplates – in an already flawed and overwhelmed immigration system – would only further erode due process and entrench existing bias by perpetuating discrimination, particularly against working class immigrants of color and women. Moreover, implementation of the proposed rule would erect additional and wholly unnecessary barriers to eligible low-income individuals who are trying to obtain and keep their public benefits.
Legal Aid is proud to represent DC residents regardless of immigration status as we work to make the District a more equitable and just city. We are therefore proud to stand with all of our sister organizations and fellow advocates across the country in opposing this draconian rule that (if implemented) would have significant and widespread negative implications for individuals, families, and communities. This proposal undermines our shared values, and would make our nation hungrier, sicker, and poorer.