Oct. 5, 2018 – Following is the statement of Frederick Isasi, JD, MPH, executive director of Families USA

Washington, D.C. Oct. 5, 2018 —Today, the Trump administration formally proposed unprecedented new restrictions on legal immigrant families. The proposed regulation targets lawfully-present immigrants by undermining their ability to access basic needs, including health care, food, and shelter.

Longstanding U.S. policy requires that immigrants who enter the country or apply for permanent residency must show that they are not likely to become primarily a “public charge” – dependent on the government for financial support. Under the new proposed rule, the “public charge” definition would be dramatically broadened to make it harder for immigrants to legally enter the country and advance through the immigration process. The proposed rule could result in the denial of entry or permanent legal status for immigrants who may receive one or more public benefits including, for the first time, Medicaid and Medicare Part D low-income subsidies. The administration also is considering adding the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) to the list of programs that would count toward a public charge determination.

Further, the new rule would discriminate against people with medical conditions. Specifically, regardless of enrollment in any particular program or being uninsured, immigrants with a medical condition that may require treatment and may be unable to cover the cost of such treatment could be denied permanent legal status. The administration will opened up a 60-day comment period for the proposed rule, providing an opportunity for members of the public to comment starting on Wednesday, October 10.

The Trump administration’s public charge rule is an assault on the American dream and our nation’s values. This proposal would change core public policy designed to help already legally-present immigrants become fully actualized members of society by making them chose between the health of their children and other family members and their ability to progress through our broken immigration process.

With this new rule, the Trump administration will force parents to make the heart wrenching choice of enrolling themselves and their children in health coverage and risking the loss of legal status for one or more family members. Families should not have to forgo needed health insurance or health care to keep their families together.

And a similar dilemma would face seniors. Low- and moderate-income seniors, who have been paying into Social Security for years, would have to choose between receiving assistance for Medicare coverage and eligibility for a green card.

Let’s be clear, all Americans are impacted when families are too afraid to seek treatment for their medical conditions–for example costs go up for everyone when people delay receiving needed health care. Conservatives say they want immigrants to ‘follow the rules’ of our nation. These families have done just that. Yet, this new rule continues the rewriting of core American values—from a country that welcomes hard-working people who want to improve their lives and contribute to our nation—to one that takes the bootstraps away from vulnerable families and doesn’t think twice in separating children from their parents.

View Families USA’s fact sheet on Public Charge here: https://info.familiesusa.org/e/72112/n-dream-and-our-nations-values/5xmvbp/533259478

Families USA, a leading national voice for health care consumers, is dedicated to the achievement of high-quality, affordable health care and improved health for all.