Press Releases

CBC Criticizes Latest Trump Administration Attack on Low-Income, Immigrants of Color

In a Letter to DHS, CBC Urges Secretary Nielsen to Rescind a Proposed Regulation to Restrict Green Cards for Immigrants Likely to Use Public Assistance

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Washington, September 25, 2018 | comments

Today, the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) criticized the Trump Administration’s latest attack on low-income, immigrants of color. In a letter to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, the CBC wrote that a proposal to restrict green cards for immigrants who are likely to use public assistance programs such as Medicaid, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and Medicare Part D is “impossible to divorce…from the administration’s ongoing attack against immigrants of color” and should be rescinded.

The letter was led by CBC Chairman Cedric L. Richmond (D-LA-02) and Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke (D-NY-09), the CBC Immigration Task Force Chair.

Chairman Richmond and Congresswoman Clarke wrote:

“While it has not always lived up to its ideals, the United States strives to reward people based upon the merit of their actions, rather than the circumstances of their birth. However, needlessly expanding the list of public assistance programs subjected to public charge analysis unfairly discriminates against immigrants from Africa, Asia, and South America by discouraging immigrants from these countries from receiving any public assistance. This would leave such immigrants with fewer resources at the outset of their experiences and make it harder for them to achieve the American dream. As a result, this proposed rule would make America less diverse and run afoul of our founding principles.”

Full text of the letter is attached, online, and below.

September 24, 2018

The Honorable Kirstjen M. Nielsen                               
Secretary                                                                  
Department of Homeland Security                                 
300 7th Street, SW                                                   
Washington, DC 20024                                                      

Dear Secretary Nielsen,

We write to urge you to rescind your proposed rule that would drastically expand the definition of public charge when determining whether immigrants can adjust their status or remain in the country. Existing law and regulations permit an alien to be deemed a public charge if they are likely to become primarily dependent on the government for subsistence, as demonstrated by either the receipt of public cash assistance for income maintenance or institutionalization for long-term care at government expense. However, the proposed rule that you signed on September 21, 2018 would expand this list of government programs to include Medicaid, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, Section 8 housing benefits, Medicare Part D subsidies, and numerous other forms of government assistance. Such a change would wrongfully force immigrants to give up essential services and would have a disproportionate impact upon immigrants from the developing world. This is yet another attempt by this administration to distract Americans from the onerous policies that are really undermining economic mobility for a large majority of the country in the midst of an election year. 

While it has not always lived up to its ideals, the United States strives to reward people based upon the merit of their actions, rather than the circumstances of their birth. However, needlessly expanding the list of public assistance programs subjected to public charge analysis unfairly discriminates against immigrants from Africa, Asia, and South America by discouraging immigrants from these countries from receiving any public assistance. This would leave such immigrants with fewer resources at the outset of their experiences and make it harder for them to achieve the American dream. As a result, this proposed rule would make America less diverse and run afoul of our founding principles.

It is also impossible to divorce these efforts from the administration’s ongoing attack against immigrants of color. Over the past 20 months President Trump has banned immigrants from Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States, terminated Temporary Protected Status for hundreds of thousands of immigrants from Sudan, Nicaragua, Nepal, Haiti, El Salvador, and Honduras, eliminated the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, attacked the Diversity Visa Lottery Program, severely curtailed the number of refugees admitted into the United States, and issued far fewer visas then previous administrations. These actions send a clear message of hostility towards immigrants across the nation and conveys to the rest of the world that America is no longer committed to serving as a beacon of freedom and tolerance. The immediate impact of these destructive and exclusionary policies is staggering; the number of green cards issued to new arrivals from Africa alone declined by nearly 30 percent between the first quarter of 2017 and the first quarter of 2018. For these reasons, we strongly urge you to reverse course on the latest iteration of anti-immigrant policy and rescind this imprudent proposal.

Sincerely,                                 

Cedric Richmond                                          
Chair, Congressional Black Caucus

Yvette D. Clarke
Chair, CBC Immigration Working Group

                              

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