On October 10, 2018, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) published a proposed rule on the “public charge” eligibility requirement that the federal government considers when determining whether to admit an immigrant into the United States or allow an immigrant to adjust status and become a lawful permanent resident (receive a Green Card). The public charge has always sought to ensure that arriving legal immigrants and nonimmigrants as well as those who adjusted their status were economically self-sufficient and not relying on government resources. For many years, the public charge analysis undertaken by the federal government focused on only use of certain government benefits, such as cash assistance. Through the proposed rule, however, the Administration is seeking to significantly expand the public benefits—and number of immigrants and nonimmigrants—considered in its public charge analysis. Essentially this proposed rule is a wealth test, discounting the contributions of certain immigrants. It will negatively affect many immigrant families – making them face the terrible choice between accessing important health and welfare benefits and facing possible separation from loved ones.
Public comments on the proposed rule are due by December 10, 2018. In response to the proposed rule, USCCB/MRS has submitted a comment in conjunction with USCCB/Office of Domestic and Social Development and Catholic Charities USA (CCUSA). We urge you to also submit comments to help stand up for impacted families!
Care for the stranger, the hungry, the sick, and the homeless are fundamental to our Catholic faith. The proposed rulemaking would have the effect of undermining access to critical public benefits for certain lawful immigrants and their families thereby damaging their ability to live their lives in dignity. Implementation of this rule would also undermine family unity, family stability, and presents threats to public health and life. We are, deeply concerned with the proposed rule, which we believe would undermine the fundamental life and dignity of persons that we are called to welcome and support. We are judged as a nation not by how we treat the powerful but how we care for the “least of these.” You can read the proposed regulation, or read our backgrounder to learn more about public charge generally. Please see the USCCB-CCUSA comment here.
CALL TO ACTION
DHS is accepting comments to the proposed rule until December 10, 2018. We ask that you submit your own unique comment to DHS, asking that the federal government withdraw this deeply concerning rule and maintain its existing public charge analysis.
It is important to send a unique message in order to show DHS the diversity of comments in opposition to the proposed rule.
Here are some talking points that you can modify to customize the comment you wish to submit (We suggest you read through all of the comments and pick at least four.):
- The proposed rule is inconsistent with my Catholic values of welcoming immigrants, promoting family unity, and valuing human life and dignity.
- Families are a cornerstone of the Catholic faith. I am deeply concerned that the rule would deny many individuals a lawful means through which to reunify or remain with family in the U.S.
- The effects of this rule would be felt not only by noncitizens, but also by their U.S. citizen and lawful permanent resident family members.
- DHS proposes to consider the size of the applicant’s family when determining whether that individual is likely to become a public charge. It is the position of the Church that creating a penalty for caring for children or caring for the elderly is immoral.
- Fear and confusion over the effects of this rule have already caused families, including those with U.S. citizen children, to withdraw from critical benefits programs for which they are eligible.
- The proposed rule and its chilling effect on families’ enrollment in benefits programs will also negatively impact the social safety net – requiring churches and other charitable organizations to meet much higher demands for assistance.
- Rather than aid hardworking families in their quest for self-sufficiency, the proposed rule would result in a number obstacles to improved economic, health, and educational outcomes.
Please submit your comment today!