The weekend’s biggest immigration news broke on Saturday evening, as the Department of Homeland Security posted online a long-threatened 447-page proposed “public charge” regulation. The regulation can be used to deny permanent legal residence to immigrants if they, or anyone in their household, has received certain public benefits, or if the government believes they will do so in the future. The regulation will not take effect until after a public comment period.
Earlier leaked drafts included subsidized health insurance under the Affordable Care Act and the earned income tax credit. The official version of the rule omits these programs. According to Politico’s analysis:
“The rule would apply to benefits received in the 36 months preceding an application, but only after the regulation takes effect….
“DHS estimates that roughly 382,000 people seeking to adjust their immigration status could be subjected to a public charge review each year.
“The proposal would count food stamps toward a public charge determination, but not receipt of the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children. An earlier leaked version of the proposal included WIC in its public charge determinations, which alarmed public health advocates because the program has been shown to improve infant and maternal health outcomes….
“The prospective regulation wouldn’t apply to all immigrants. Refugees and asylees are exempt, as are certain victims of domestic violence and children who qualify for “special immigrant juvenile status,” which is available to minors who were abused, neglected or abandoned by a parent.”
UnidosUS, formerly the National Council of La Raza, said that, “As expected, this new regulation is rooted in changing our legal immigration system to one based on the size of your wallet and the color of your skin, and masking it with misinformation and the false pretense that immigrants pose a burden to American taxpayers despite clear evidence against it.”
Watching the Children
As the clock continues ticking, nearly two months past the court-ordered deadline for family reunification, nearly 500 children remain separated from their parents.
Besides these children, thousands of teenagers who crossed the border without parents, as unaccompanied minors, remain in government custody. Now their families face increasing hurdles in getting them back, as the government applies stricter rules including fingerprinting everyone in the household and sharing that information with ICE. That puts any undocumented household members in ICE’s crosshairs for immediate deportation. The government’s expressed concern over the safety of the children lasts only as long as they remain in custody: they have lost track of nearly 1,500 of the children placed with sponsors in 2018.
Thousands of other children, including U.S. citizens, have been displaced by fear.
“In counties with I.C.E. partnerships, the Latino student population plummeted. It did not do so in otherwise similar counties without the partnerships. The student population of other races also did not significantly change in the 55 counties….
“The harm isn’t as severe as caging kids or separating them from their families,” Dee told me, referring to more recent actions by the Trump administration. “But the scale and long-lived nature of this program is really important. We’re immiserating our children on a scale that I don’t think anyone has appreciated.” In fact, the displaced children represented 3 percent of all Latino children nationwide.”
Noting that 26 percent of all U.S. children have immigrant parents, the Washington Post calls the 21st century “the century of the children of immigrants.” Immigrant children represent the future of the country.