‘Public Charge’ Could Harm Illinois Families

By: Ashmar Mandou

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Local NewsIn early September, the Department of Homeland Security proposed a new rule that would change who is considered a “public charge” that could potentially restructure the legal immigration system. And with days away from finalization, local organizations such as the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights and Mujeres Latinas en Acción are urging Illinois residents to make their voices heard.

“Mujeres Latinas en Accion has grave concerns regarding the immense harm that the proposed “public charge” rule will have on immigrants, and specifically on immigrant survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault,” MLEA released in a statement.

Public charge is a term used in immigration law to refer to a person who is primarily dependent on the government to meet their basic needs. In Illinois, 1 million people—including 379,000 children—could be impacted. Thirteen percent of Cook County’s population, or 658,000 people, could be affected by this rule change. In Kane, Lake, DuPage and Will counties, an estimated 261,000 people could be impacted.

If “public charge” passes it would allow immigration officials to consider some immigrants’ use of Medicaid, food stamps, and housing programs when deciding whether they should be able to become legal permanent residents, such as receiving a green card. The Trump administration has said the proposal is meant to promote self-sufficiency and save taxpayer money by not allowing immigrants to stay in the U.S. if they’re likely to become financial burdens on the country. “The proposed rule would threaten the legal status of millions of immigrant families in Illinois and nationwide. Under this inhumane new standard, immigration officials could penalize immigrants seeking green cards or visas to come to the U.S. if they have received, or are judged likely to receive, health coverage through Medicaid; certain prescription drug subsidies; food assistance; public housing or housing vouchers; and cash assistance. The proposed rule has already caused families to unnecessarily disenrollment from crucial assistance programs and has created fear among communities,” released Protecting Immigrant Families in a statement.

The Trump administration’s proposal will add standards, such as income, health, age and English language proficiency in addition to expanding the forms of public assistance that are counted in a public charge determination. If finalized, this regulation would dramatically reshape the legal immigration system. Comments on the proposal are being accepted through December 10th, after which the administration may finalize it. If you would like to submit your comment, visit www.protectingimmigrantfamilies.org/#take-action

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Local News

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Local News

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