The Trump administration has proposed a change to immigration rules that forces families to choose between the things they need and the people they love. It would make accessing public benefit programs that help families thrive–programs like Medicaid, SNAP food assistance, public housing, among others–a disqualifier for immigration. The result: a sicker, hungrier, poorer nation, and an enormous step backwards from achieving health equity.
The “public charge” rule is currently used in a very narrow way to deny entry to the US, a green card, or other legal status; this proposal dramatically expands how it’s applied. It would allow officials to deny immigrants’ applications if they public programs to get medical care, food, shelter and other basic necessities, or is predicted to use them in the future. Not using the public benefits they are entitled to will risk their health and the health of their family; however, using them will threaten their ability to be reunited or stay together as a family in the US by putting them at risk of deportation.
Trump’s escalating attacks on immigrants are a rejection of our American values of family, community, and fairness. This change would restrict legal immigration to only the wealthy few, shutting out the hard working families that enrich our communities and drive our economy. It would potentially discourage millions of eligible individuals across the country from receiving medical attention, while exacerbating financial insecurity, hunger, and homelessness. Thousands of Coloradans would be directly affected, and our state would lose millions in economic activity.
This isn’t the first time we’ve faced abuses like this, both in our nation’s history and from this administration. And just as we’ve done before, everyday Americans will rise up, speak out, and fight back. This is a fight for our values, our communities, and our nation’s soul. Our future depends on the success of our immigrant friends and neighbors, and if we reject this dangerous public charge rule and embrace policies that help immigrants and their families succeed, we all win.
Interested in getting involved in fighting back? Submit your comments to the Federal Register, which is our best hope for stopping this rule change. Contact our director of health systems change, Aubrey Hill, for more information.