FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 8/21/19
Contact: Conner Kerrigan, Communications Director, Empower Missouri
Advocates Urge Litigation, Congressional Action, to Protect Families
Jefferson City, MO — Trump Administration regulations published in final form Friday threaten the health of up to 227,000 Missourians, including 70,000 children, weaponizing health and human services programs against immigrants and their families, including U.S.-born children.
“The Trump administration seems dead-set on creating ineffective policies that will only serve to inflict pain on hard-working families. Immigrants should be able to access nutrition assistance and housing support during their time of crisis, and we know that temporary use of government assistance in times of need does not mean that someone becomes permanently dependent,” said Conner Kerrigan, Communications Director at Empower Missouri.
When proposed last fall, the regulation drew more than 266,000 public comments, overwhelmingly in opposition. Empower Missouri opposed the plan, warning that consequences from such a rule are felt not only by individuals and families, but by whole communities and economies. Denying immigrants access to food will affect the health of all of us.
The final regulation puts admissions to the U.S. or applications for a “green card” at risk if an immigrant or a member of an immigrant’s family, who is also applying for a green card, uses Medicare, Medicaid, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly “Food Stamps”) or “Section 8” rent vouchers. Citizenship applications are not subject to the “public charge” regulation, and refugees, asylees, and other immigration statutes are also exempt.
Empower Missouri’s estimate localizes a national analysis pegging the proposed regulation’s impact at 26 million people nationwide utilizing a tool made available by Manatt in 2018. That includes the one-fourth of all children in the U.S. — the vast majority born here — who live in immigrant families. Experts expect unmet health care needs to rise, as well as hunger, child poverty, inadequate or unsafe housing, and other drivers of poor health outcomes. And because immigrants targeted by the Trump proposal are overwhelmingly immigrants of color, experts expect racial health disparities to widen. This regulation is not the only attack. The Administration has already proposed additional regulations targeting immigrant families’ health, incomes, food, and homes.
The DHS regulation is one of several recent and planned attacks on immigrant families of color. Trump’s United States Department of Justice (DOJ) has drafted a companion regulation that would expand deportations based on immigrant families’ use of public programs. Advocates expect that the DOJ regulation will have an even greater “chilling effect,” because of the family separation consequences of deportation. The Department of Housing and Urban Development also proposed regulations denying housing assistance to mixed-status families that include an undocumented person — a move that could reportedly make 55,000 U.S.-born children homeless. The Commerce Department also attempted to add a citizenship question to the 2020 Census, prompting ultimately successful litigation arguing that the policy would disenfranchise voters of color. Like these policies, the public charge regulation finalized today is expected to have a disproportionate impact on children and families of color.
Advocates for immigrant families and state attorneys general are already preparing litigation. And Congress can block the regulation’s implementation.
“Making it harder for immigrants to eat a meal or get medical assistance is helping no one,” said Jeanette Mott Oxford, Executive Director of Empower Missouri. “We are calling on Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt to join efforts to protect the health of Missouri families. U.S. Senators Roy Blunt and Josh Hawley must stand up for our community’s health and tear down the paperwork wall President Trump has erected between the ‘huddled masses yearning to breathe free’ and safety.”