Congress Must Block “Public Charge” Policy, Advocates Urge
WASHINGTON — Advocates for children and education denounced a Trump Administration regulation finalized today that effectively restricts immigration access based on income and other factors, threatening millions of children in immigrant families. Advocates urged swift congressional action to block its implementation.
The final regulation puts admissions to the U.S. or applications for a “green card” at risk if an immigrant uses Medicaid, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly “Food Stamps”) or “Section 8” rent vouchers. Estimates peg the regulation’s impact at 26 million people nationwide. That includes the one-fourth of all children in the U.S. — the vast majority born here — who live in immigrant families. By the Administration’s own admission, child poverty, hunger, unmet health needs and homelessness will rise if the regulation is implemented. And because immigrants targeted by the new rule are overwhelmingly immigrants of color, experts expect racial disparities in education and child well-being to widen.
When proposed last fall, the regulation drew more than 266,000 public comments, overwhelmingly in opposition. Children’s advocates, educators, pediatricians, school districts, public health officials, and other community leaders also spoke out against the regulation.
Congress is considering legislation that would protect children and families from the menace of the public charge rule. The No Federal Funds for Public Charge Act, sponsored by Congresswoman Judy Chu (D-Calif.), would block funding of the regulation’s implementation. Some House lawmakers are also working to block funding through the appropriations process.
Advocates for children and educators reacted to the regulation’s finalization:
“This rule is morally reprehensible and economically foolish,” said Bruce Lesley, president of the bipartisan advocacy group First Focus on Children. “Children are, quite literally, the future of America and this rule imperils some of the most vulnerable among them. We fully support Congressional efforts to block funding for this cruel and economically uninformed measure.”
“This reckless and immoral regulation will put millions of children at greater risk of hunger, illness and poverty,” said Kathleen King, interim policy director for the Children’s Defense Fund. “The culture of fear being fostered by this administration has already harmed children as immigrant families have withdrawn them from health coverage, food assistance and more. We will continue to fight against this rule to ensure all children can access the basic resources they need to thrive.”
“AASA is disappointed to see the Trump administration double down on a flawed policy that will exacerbate the needs of our nation’s youngest and most vulnerable. We opposed the draft regulation for its specific implications for schools and students, including food insecurity, undermining student health, and destabilizing housing,” said Sasha Pudelski, advocacy director for AASA, The School Superintendents Association. “The rule, as released today, will have a devastating impact on the children that we educate, and the school district budgets we manage. Schools have a legal requirement to accept and educate all students that come through their door, regardless of their or their family’s immigration status, and we expect federal laws and policies to support school districts in our efforts to educate students, not undermine those efforts. We strive to serve all students in our districts and believe this regulation would imperil the educational benefits of all students, and this rule misses that mark.”