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Congressional Hispanic Caucus Opposes Public Charge Rule

Dec 11, 2018
Press Release
27 CHC Members Submit Opposition to Proposed Changes, Pits Survival of Families Against Hope for Citizenship

WASHINGTON—Congressman Joaquin Castro (TX-20), Chairman-Elect of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC), Rep. Adriano Espaillat (NY-13), and 25 CHC members submitted a comment opposing the proposed rulemaking changes to the “public charge” rule. In a letter to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Office of Policy and Strategy Chief Samantha Deshommes, the Members highlighted that redefining public charge would harm immigrant families, pit survival of families against the hope for American citizenship, and endanger the ability of legal residents to continue on a path to citizenship if they seek any food or healthcare assistance for their children.

“This proposed rule would affect a wide swath of immigrants and their families, including U.S. citizen children with immigrant parents.  Should this rule be finalized, we expect to see immigrant parents forgoing critical food and health services for themselves and their children in order to avoid a public charge determination,” the Members wrote.

The Members continued: “[T]his rule abandons the original and enduring intent of Congress for public charge to be a person who relies on the government as their main source of support, altering it to include anyone who supplements a low income by utilizing basic needs programs for health care, nutrition or housing... For these reasons, the Department of Homeland Security should immediately withdraw this proposal, which would dramatically reinterpret the ‘public charge’ ground of inadmissibility and harm immigrant children and families.”

Full text of the letter follows and can be found here

December 10, 2018

Samantha Deshommes, Chief
Regulatory Coordination Division, Office of Policy and Strategy
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
Department of Homeland Security
20 Massachusetts Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20529-2140

Re: DHS Docket No. USCIS-2010-0012, RIN 1615-AA22, Comments in Response to Proposed Rulemaking: Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds

Dear Ms. Deshommes:

As members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, we write in strong opposition to the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Notice of Proposed Rulemaking regarding changes to “public charge.”  By drastically redefining public charge, this proposed rule would cause tremendous harm to immigrants, their families, and their loved ones.  If put into effect, this new policy would force mothers, children, and families to choose between essential lifeline programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and their immigration status.  We urge this rule to be withdrawn in its entirety.

Of particular concern to our Caucus is the effect this proposed rule will have on Latino communities and all communities of color.  Of the almost 26 million individuals who would potentially be impacted by this rule, approximately 90 percent (23.2 million) are people of color, 70 percent (18.3 million) of whom are Latino, which is approximately 33 percent of all Latinos in the U.S.[1]  Among Latino children, who account for a quarter of all U.S. children, the majority (52 percent) have at least one immigrant parent.[2] 

Latinos continue to make great strides in contributing to the economy, to which they are projected to contribute $1.7 trillion to the economy by 2020.[3]  Latinos have become entrepreneurs at a faster rate than all other racial and ethnic groups, with Latinas being the fastest growing group of small business owners. Despite these economic gains, like other Americans, some Latinos are struggling to meet basic needs.  That is why programs like SNAP and Medicaid are critical for some communities.  Twenty-one percent of Latino households received SNAP in the last year;[4] approximately 32 percent of Latinos are covered by Medicaid;[5] and approximately 740,000 Latino households received federal rental assistance in 2015.[6]  With the short-term assistance of these programs, millions of Latinos were able to lift themselves out of poverty and deep poverty.[7] 

This proposed rule would affect a wide swath of immigrants and their families, including U.S. citizen children with immigrant parents.  Should this rule be finalized, we expect to see immigrant parents forgoing critical food and health services for themselves and their children in order to avoid a public charge determination.  Depriving children of much needed nutrition and health care services would lead to a host of issues, including poor health outcomes and increased health care costs.[8] This should not be the desired outcome of this proposed rule, yet that will likely be one of a host of consequences if this rule were enacted.  Additionally, the proposed rule would likely reduce legal immigration by creating barriers for individuals seeking to reunify family members in a legal manner.  It would create a multitude of ways for individuals to fail the public charge test, and very few ways to overcome it.

Finally, in dramatically redefining the public charge test, this rule abandons the original and enduring intent of Congress for public charge to be a person who relies on the government as their main source of support, altering it to include anyone who supplements a low income by utilizing basic needs programs for health care, nutrition or housing.  Such changes have never been the intent of Congress and would alter 135 years of Congressional precedent. 

For these reasons, the Department of Homeland Security should immediately withdraw this proposal, which would dramatically reinterpret the “public charge” ground of inadmissibility and harm immigrant children and families.

Sincerely,

Adriano Espaillat
Freshman Representative
Member of Congress
 
Michelle Lujan Grisham
Chair
Member of Congress
 
Joaquin Castro
Chair-Elect
Member of Congress
 
Ruben Gallego
2nd Vice-Chair
Member of Congress
 
Pete Aguilar
Whip
 
Nydia M. Velázquez
Member of Congress
 
Juan Vargas
Member of Congress
 
Salud O. Carbajal
Member of Congress
 
Grace F. Napolitano
Member of Congress
 
Jim Costa
Member of Congress
 
Vicente Gonzalez
Member of Congress
 
Filemon Vela
Member of Congress
 
Raúl M. Grijalva
Member of Congress
 
Luis V. Gutiérrez
Member of Congress
 
J. Luis Correa
Member of Congress
 
Nanette Diaz Barragán
Member of Congress
 
Jimmy Gomez
Member of Congress
 
Darren Soto
Member of Congress
 
Norma J. Torres
Member of Congress
 
Linda T. Sánchez
Member of Congress
 
Tony Cárdenas
Member of Congress
 
Albio Sires
Member of Congress
 
Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan
Member of Congress
 
Lucille Roybal-Allard
Member of Congress
 
José E. Serrano
Member of Congress
 
Ben Ray Luján
Member of Congress
 
Raul Ruiz       
Member of Congress 

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The Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC), founded in December 1976, is organized as a Congressional Member organization, governed under the Rules of the U.S. House of Representatives. The CHC is dedicated to voicing and advancing, through the legislative process, issues affecting Hispanics in the United States, Puerto Rico and U.S. Territories.


[1] 2012-2016 5-Year American Community Survey Public Use Microdata Sample (ACS/PUMS); 20122016 5-Year American Community Survey (ACS) estimates accessed via American FactFinder; Missouri Census Data Center (MCDC) MABLE PUMA-County Crosswalk. Custom Tabulation by Manatt health, 9/30/2018. Found online at https://www.manatt.com/Insights/Articles/2018/Public-Charge-Rule-Potentially-Chilled-Population.

[2] Richard Fry and Jeffrey S. Passel “Latino Children: A Majority Are U.S.-Born Offspring of Immigrants” (Washington, DC: Pew Research Center, 2009) http://www.pewhispanic.org/2009/05/28/latino-children-a-majority-are-us-born-offspring-of-immigrants/.

[4] UnidosUS tabulation of 2017 Current Population Survey, Annual Social and Economic Supplement.

[5] UnidosUS tabulation of 2017 Current Population Survey, Annual Social and Economic Supplement.

[6] Center on Budget and Policy Priorities tabulation of Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) 2016 administrative data, produced by arrangement with HUD.