Immigrants Are Fed Up With the “Heartless” Ways the Government Is Vilifying Them for Using Public Benefits – Mother Jones

Immigrants Are Fed Up With the “Heartless” Ways the Government Is Vilifying Them for Using Public Benefits – Mother Jones

Aaron Lavinsky/Star Tribune/AP

As a Vietnamese refugee who got here to the US together with her household at the age of 5, Thu Quach understands firsthand how a lot of a lifeline meals stamps and different authorities assist can be for new immigrants. “When we came to San Francisco, we had nothing,” she recollects. “We couldn’t even fill a suitcase.” 

In order quickly as she heard that the Trump administration needed to broaden the public cost rule—which penalizes sure immigrants if public advantages account for most of their revenue—Quach, the chief deputy of administration at California-based nonprofit Asian Well being Providers, knew she needed to do one thing. Although refugees like her are exempt from the rule, Quach says that she believes everybody deserves a serving to hand. 

The general public cost provision shouldn’t be new, however the Trump administration’s proposal, which was first leaked again in February, would drastically broaden the classes of advantages that may deem an immigrant a public cost. Beneath present regulation, sure immigrants who hope to enter the nation or apply for inexperienced playing cards might be thought-about a “public charge” in the event that they’ve ever used money help or long-term medical care. That willpower might negatively have an effect on their software—and finally result in a denial. The proposed rule change would broaden these advantages to additionally embrace Medicaid, SNAP, public housing, and others that many immigrants depend on. It will additionally take into accounts quite a lot of biographical elements, together with an immigrant’s revenue, their credit score rating, English proficiency, and the variety of youngsters they’ve—standards that immigration advocates say would successfully submit these people to a “wealth test.”

“I know too well the hardships and heartache of those early resettlement years. I’ve watched my parents cry from worry about making ends meet.”

When the new rule was publicly posted to the federal register in October, it opened up a 60-day public remark interval. Although feedback might not finally decide the end result of a proposed rule, they’re certainly one of the few methods the public can immediately weigh in on and probably affect the last proposal.

“My entire life, including my professional and personal work, has been shaped by my immigrant experience. I know too well the hardships and heartache of those early resettlement years. I’ve watched my parents cry from worry about making ends meet,” Quach wrote in a remark she submitted on the rule. “Through initial investment that this country made on our family, I was able to attend UC Berkeley, and eventually went on to get my Masters in Public Health at UCLA, and my PhD at UC Berkeley. But I never forgot what this country offered me, and was eager to give back.”

“The proposed public charge rule change hits us right in the gut,” she continued. “I urge you to withdraw the public charge rule… Immigrants have more than paid back what has been given to us plus multi-fold more. We are tired of being a target of this Administration.”

The general public cost proposal has up to now drawn greater than 130,000 feedback—lots of them revealing alarmed and annoyed outcry, like the one from Quach. And the big quantity of feedback isn’t a coincidence: They’re the results of a coordinated effort from a coalition of greater than 200 immigration advocacy teams, together with Quach’s, which have educated immigrant communities about the modifications. Working beneath the Defending Immigrant Households (PIF) marketing campaign, the organizations have held tons of of workshops with group leaders and suggested them on methods to submit substantive feedback. Feedback have poured in from public officers, docs, religion leaders,  and lots of immigrants themselves. 

“We didn’t know if it was possible at the beginning, but the extraordinary outpouring and the breadth [of the comments] really suggests that we were right to think this is hugely important to many people,” says Olivia Golden, government director of the Middle for Regulation and Social Coverage, considered one of the organizations main the marketing campaign. “This isn’t a narrow issue affecting a few people, it affects all of us.” 

Realistically, the feedback, even hundreds of shifting ones, will doubtless not halt the Trump administration’s efforts. However the aim is to underscore simply how a lot this rule might have an effect on sure communities, and to “make the stories of individual immigrants relevant,” says Maripat Pileggi, a supervising lawyer at Group Authorized Providers of Philadelphia, a corporation that’s additionally been working to tell immigrant communities about the rule. “It’s really empowering for immigrant communities to make their voices heard in this official way.” 

“This isn’t a narrow issue affecting a few people, it affects all of us.” 

The PIF marketing campaign additionally hopes the sheer quantity of the feedback might probably delay the rule’s implementation. Federal businesses are required to assessment feedback and reply to “substantive” ones earlier than publishing a last rule. As Golden factors out, “If the administration were to make a good faith effort to seriously review more than a 100,000 comments raising a wide array of arguments with an enormous amount of research support… that would take years.” 

As soon as the remark interval closes subsequent week, lots of the organizations in the coalition will proceed engaged on group outreach to make sure that immigrants don’t drop out of providers. Worryingly, a number of studies have proven an uptick in immigrants dropping out of public profit packages, together with meals stamps, as a result of fears it might harm their authorized standing. It doesn’t matter what, the implementation of the rule gained’t be the finish of the struggle. “Should they put forward a final rule,” Golden says, “there would be litigation.”

The 60-day remark interval for the rule involves an in depth on Monday December 10. Earlier than then, to know how immigrants and allies are feeling, in their very own phrases, we’ve pulled a few of the strongest public feedback:

Anna Jeon: “I am a women’s health educator in San Jose, CA. I am seeing first-hand the fear the community is experiencing because of the rule change regarding Public Charge. Individuals are putting off seeking health care services until it is absolutely necessary, which jeopardizes the health and well-being of Santa Clara County children and their families… If the public charge rule is finalized in its proposed form, this would mark a significant and harmful departure from long standing immigration policy. The proposal would make and has already made immigrant families afraid to seek programs that support their basic needs. We must stop this attack on our most vulnerable communities.” 

Francisco Herrera: “This proposed rule makes me feel powerless. This change will affect my whole family and more generally many other immigrants. We contribute our work. We contribute our taxes. [We] feel powerless to stop it.” 

Lauren W.: “I am an child of an immigrant and previous Vietnam War refugee… I am appalled and offended by this rule that will judge me or any immigrant by our wealth, status, education, and whether we have asked for public benefits. My mother was a single mother who gave birth to my elder sister within a refugee camp in Indonesia in transit to the US. She would not have been able to move out of poverty had she not had the ability to have affordable childcare and nutrition and food support. I urge you to withdraw the public charge rule, which would undermine our nation’s economic future.” 

Madison Szar: “Dear Secretary Nielsen: I am a second year medical student at the University of Florida College of Medicine… If finalized, the proposed rule on public charge would put the health of millions of children and families at risk… I have seen first hand the difficult choice immigrant parents must make, often putting their health and children’s health at risk out of fear of family separation, deportation, and decreased likelihood of citizenship approval. I can recall volunteering at pediatrics night of our community clinic, and having a mom, crying, telling me she did not want any insurance assistance in paying for a breast pump for fear that if she reached out for community services, they would take her infant away…. For many months, pediatricians have seen parents forgoing vital services to keep themselves and their children healthy out of fear that using such programs jeopardizes their chances of getting a visa or green card. Instead of ensuring these children are getting the services they need, we are using these services as a deterrent and bargaining chip for citizenship.” 

Maya Shanbhag Lang: “I’m the daughter of Indian immigrants… I’m horrified by a rule that may decide immigrants by whether or not they have requested for public help… Giving individuals a hand when they’re down is what makes America nice. If we step away from primary human decency, if we flip our backs on immigrants, we step away from our place as a pacesetter in the world.

Have we forgotten who we’re? We’re imagined to be the nation that welcomes immigrants. My mom was a physician, my father an engineer. They contributed enormously to the group. He constructed tunnels. She saved lives. They introduced their skills right here as a result of they noticed the United States as a welcoming place, not solely for ‘successful’ immigrants, however for all. ‘Anyone can come to America,’ my mother all the time informed me. ‘That is what makes this country great.’

If we enact insurance policies like the Public Cost rule, the United States will lose its stature as a beacon of human rights. The Public Cost rule will trigger a ‘brain drain’ over time. It should trigger us to lose no matter ethical authority we’ve got in the world.” 

Lina Bensman: “I got here to the United States with my mom and grandmother once I was 5. We have been refugees. We had nothing. However every single day, I ate fruit and different good, actual meals, as a result of my household acquired meals stamps. At elementary faculty, I used to be given a scorching lunch. I didn’t have to fret about not having sufficient to eat, or wrestle to focus in school whereas my abdomen growled. When my grandmother received most cancers—twice—she acquired remedy via Medicare. And so she didn’t die, and at this time, in her mid-nineties, sends me common emails from her gmail account attaching pictures of flowers that she takes on her walks. And naturally, once I was nonetheless a toddler, she was capable of care for me throughout the day whereas my mother labored, as a result of most cancers didn’t take her away from us. 

America, and the state of California the place we lived, invested cash and assets into my household… My mom, my grandmother and I all turned residents as quickly as we have been eligible to take action. I keep in mind how exhausting my grandmother studied for her citizenship examination, and the way proud all of us have been to be actual People… We’re taxpayers. We donate to charitable and political causes. We have now many shut relationships with others in our group. Our roots are right here. 

… Even when we had been much less profitable (in monetary phrases), it might nonetheless have been good and proper for this nation to have fed us once we have been hungry, cared for us once we have been sick… Cash alone isn’t the solely measure we should always use when deciding whom to assist, whom to incorporate. Life is tough sufficient for immigrants with out this petty, penny-wise pound-foolish proposal. What a heartless and short-sighted rule that is. That it was put ahead in any respect is shameful. Whether it is adopted, that can be extra shameful nonetheless.” 

Notice: Some feedback don’t seem in full and have been trimmed for area.

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