(Miami) - A draconian proposal by the Trump administration to overhaul how immigration officials determine what constitutes a “public charge” (which could result in denial of lawful permanent residence or entry to the U.S.) was announced on Saturday night. There will be a 60 day public comment period.
The proposed new rule radically revamps longstanding immigration law. For the first time, immigration officials could consider use of critical non-cash benefits intended to safeguard the health, nutrition, housing and economic security of America's low-income families in making public charge determinations. States with large immigrant populations like Florida will be disproportionately impacted.
Miriam Harmatz, Co-executive Director of the Florida Health Justice Project, explained that this represents a major shift from long-standing policy in which the only benefits considered in a public charge determination are cash assistance or long-term institutional care. "The chilling effect will result in Florida’s families and children being poorer and sicker.”
Local public officials across the country have been speaking out against the long rumored rule, and the Miami-Dade County Board of County Commissioners passed a resolution on 9/5/18 urging the federal government to maintain the status quo. Citing data provided by Dr. Matt Childers, Director of Policy Research for the Florida Health Justice Project, the Commission’s Resolution opposed any federal regulatory change that would negatively impact immigrant families.
In observing that “this is a disgraceful attack on immigrants legally living and working in our communities,” Maria Rodriguez, Executive Director of Florida Immigrant Coalition, also noted that nothing changes until the Administration reviews and responds to public comments. She urged all members of the public to submit comments. “This is an attack on the entire community.”
Jonathan Fried, Director of WeCount, similarly decried the proposal’s impact. “Key sectors of Florida’s economy, including agriculture and tourism, are dependent on immigrant workers who earn less than a living wage. Their families will forego Medicaid, food stamps, and housing assistance - services to which they are legally entitled - jeopardizing their health, safety and security, as well as Florida’s economic sustainability."
For more information on the rule’s impact in Florida and how to submit comments, contact Matt Childers.