Speak Up for Immigrant Families!

Playtime at Lok Yuen Child Development Center

Playtime at Lok Yuen Child Development Center

In September 2018, the current administration proposed making it harder for immigrants to come to the United States or remain in the U.S. if they have received or are likely to receive public benefits such as food aid, public housing or Medicaid.

The suggested rule from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) would expand immigration officers' ability to deny visas or legal permanent residency status to immigrants if they have received legally entitled, taxpayer-funded benefits. These include, but are not limited to, Medicaid, the Medicare Part D low-income subsidy, Section 8 housing vouchers, and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), commonly known as food stamps.

By penalizing families and individuals for their use of legally entitled essential services, the proposal threatens the healthy development of millions of children. The proposal stokes fear in the immigrant community and dissuades them from utilizing vital services. In a time when approximately one in four children in the United States lives with at least one immigrant parent, this proposal inevitably threatens our future. Wu Yee’s Joy Lok Family Resource Center has observed a decline in families applying for public benefits due to this fear, even before the proposed DHS rule change was announced.

According to the DHS, the proposed rule change would affect more than the 382,000 people per year who obtain permanent residence while already in the United States.  The U.S. State Department would likely change its own regulations to match those of the DHS when the proposal becomes final. This would affect hundreds of thousands of people living abroad who obtain U.S. permanent residence each year through the State Department.  Families who are concerned should first consult with an immigration lawyer (here are some resources) before stopping services.

Currently, the proposed rule is still in draft form and policy decisions regarding immigrants using legally entitled public benefits within the U.S. have not changed.  Now is the time to use your voice to be an advocate for immigrant rights! The DHS has allowed a 60-day period for public comment, ending on December 10, 2018. The DHS will read and consider every comment made in the 60-day period.  Speak up now on behalf of immigrants and submit your comments to www.regulations.gov.