CONGRESS MUST BLOCK “PUBLIC CHARGE” POLICY, ADVOCATES URGE
NLIHC, NHLP, Housing California, NPH, and NILC hosted a press call on August 14 to describe the threat to housing affordability this rule proposes and outline action steps needed to protect immigrant families. A recording of this call is available at: https://rebrand.ly/ewv6ig
(August 14) Washington, DC — Advocates for affordable and accessible housing and immigrant rights denounce the Trump Administration’s decision to move forward with finalizing regulations that target legal immigrants and effectively restrict access to critical housing resources for millions of families.
The final “public charge” rule significantly restricts the visa or “green card” application process for non-citizens or permanent residents. When a non-citizen applies for a visa to enter the U.S. or for lawful permanent residence, the government official considers the person’s life circumstances to see if the person may need services now or in the future. If the official determines that the individual is likely to become a “public charge”, the person’s application may be denied. This new rule could potentially impact almost 26 million non-citizens and their family members nationwide who use or potentially could use vital programs including Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers, Section 8 Project-Based Rental Assistance, and Public Housing programs, as well as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Medicaid, and parts of Medicare. This rule also impacts one-fourth of children in the U.S. — the vast majority born here — who live in immigrant families. And because immigrants targeted by the Trump proposal are overwhelmingly immigrants of color, experts expect racial disparities in housing access to widen.
Congress is considering legislation that would protect families from this threat. The No Federal Funds for Public Charge Act, sponsored by Congresswoman Judy Chu (D-CA) would block funding of the regulation’s implementation. The U.S. House of Representatives Appropriations Committee has also approved draft funding legislation for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security that would also block the regulation’s implementation.
When proposed last fall, the regulation drew more than 266,000 public comments, overwhelmingly in opposition. Housing advocates, public housing authorities, advocates for immigrant rights, policymakers and community leaders opposed the proposal.
The final public charge rule puts low-income immigrants in a cruel and impossible bind of having to choose between accessing the support they need to live safe and healthy lives or protecting their immigration status. Advocates urge swift congressional and judicial action to block its implementation and we will oppose any additional radical proposals that target vulnerable communities.
“The administration designed this latest policy to do the greatest harm to low-income immigrants and their children by severely restricting their ability to access critical and life-saving benefits including food, health and housing assistance,” said Diane Yentel, National Low Income Housing Coalition president and CEO. “As low-income immigrant families lose access to needed housing assistance, they will face increased risk of eviction and homelessness, with tremendous personal and societal costs from the poorer health, lowered educational attainment and lessened lifetime earnings that will result. This change to decades of immigration policy is unconscionable, cruel, and unacceptable. We will work to stop this policy from being implemented before it can do the profound harm that it threatens to low-income immigrants and their communities.”
“The administration has ignored the more than a quarter of a million people who filed public comments – overwhelmingly opposing this regulation, and they’re ignoring the fact that this policy will risk causing families with children to experience housing instability and homelessness,” said Olivia Golden, Center for Law and Social Policy executive director. “We’re committed to working with our many partners to stop this.”
“The rule will sow more fear in immigrant communities and almost certainly lead many immigrants who are in the United States legally as well as their family members to forgo health coverage, nutrition assistance, and housing assistance that they need and are eligible for under federal law,” said Robert Greenstein, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities president.
“The Trump Administration continues to cruelly target immigrant children—first separating them from caregivers, then locking them in cages, now ensuring they become homeless,” said Lisa Hershey, Housing California executive director. “This unconscionable policy is inconsistent with our nation’s values of caring for those with the least means, ensuring that a population already facing significant barriers to living in a home will be plunged into poverty. Congress must act quickly to protect children and families from President Trump’s attempt to throw them out of their homes while keeping others from obtaining a roof over their head altogether.”
“The public charge rule would have widespread negative consequences on immigrant families who rely on housing assistance as a critical lifeline,” said Karlo Ng, National Housing Law Project supervising attorney. “The regulation jeopardizes their housing stability and places them at risk of homelessness. That would negatively impact their employment, education, health, and ability to otherwise be self-sufficient. We wholly reject the idea that some families are more deserving than others of having a safe place to live, and we condemn this rule’s targeting of low-income immigrant families. No family should have to choose between immigration eligibility and having a roof over their head.”
“The Trump Administration wants to deny a secure future in this country to anyone who isn’t white and wealthy, and they’re threatening the homes of millions of families to do it,” said Jackie Vimo, National Immigration Law Center Economic Justice policy analyst. “The National Immigration Law Center is preparing to sue to fight back against this regulation and protect immigrant families.”
“The Trump Administration has once again targeted our immigrant communities with a racist and heartless proposal,” said Pedro Galvao, Nonprofit Housing Association of Northern California (NPH) senior policy manager. “This dangerous Public Charge rule will force tens of thousands of families to make the impossible choice between having a roof over their heads or maintaining their immigration status. It will exacerbate the poverty and suffering of our most vulnerable and break up our communities. Every person deserves the decency and dignity of a home of their own, regardless of immigrant status.”
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