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Dangerous Federal “Public Charge” Rule Threatens 1 in 4 Texas Children

CPPP Joins Overwhelming Opposition to Rule Change with Disproportionate Impact on Hispanic Texans and Low-Income Immigrants

Today, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released semifinal text of a new regulation that could affect millions of Texans—including over 1.6 million U.S. citizen children—who may go without needed health care, food, and housing out of fear that meeting those needs will prevent a family member from earning a Green Card or receiving a visa to enter the U.S. lawfully.

Luis Figueroa, Legislative & Policy Director, CPPP

The proposed change would be a deeply harmful, massive reversal of longstanding U.S. immigration policy that protected access to medical care and food. The regulation, referred to as the “Public Charge” rule, was published in the federal register today with the following acknowledgment: “While some commenters provided support for the rule, the vast majority of commenters opposed the rule.” Over 260,000 public comments were submitted to the DHS. Read CPPP comments and other opposition statements here.

"This xenophobic regulation will close the doors to hard-working new Americans who are critical to our Texas economy and our American tradition of family immigration and social mobility," said Anne Dunkelberg, Associate Director of the Center for Public Policy Priorities. “More than one in four Texas children today has a parent who is not a U.S. citizen, and the time has come to respect these children and be a welcoming state.”

By implementing this hateful rule, the Administration has deliberately sown fear among Texas families that include immigrants, causing untold numbers to drop or refuse Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and food assistance for U.S. citizen children and family members. This confusion and fear may take years to reverse, resulting in reduced immunization rates, fewer women receiving prenatal care, less adequate nutrition for pregnant women, new mothers, infants and children, and delayed access to medically needed care for children and intervention services for children with developmental delays.

Under current rules, immigrants can lose their ability to gain permanent resident status only if they are entirely dependent on cash assistance benefits or long-term care in an institution. If the new rule takes effect 60 days from the expected Wednesday publication, the federal government may also disqualify immigrants from the legal immigration process if a person lawfully uses Medicaid, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (food stamps), housing assistance, or sliding-scale “extra help” assistance for low-income Medicare beneficiaries’ medication costs.

Of equal concern, the proposed rule would also strongly limit lawful immigration pathways for lower-income people, and raise new higher barriers to immigration status for prospective immigrants who have a chronic or serious illness or a disability.

By using rule-making that bypasses the U.S. Congress, the administration seeks to dramatically reduce options for low-income working parents to pursue lawful immigration pathways to get a Green Card.

“Medicaid enrollment by children in working Texas families has already declined significantly, and too many Texas families are also dropping access to food assistance, in hopes that foregoing basic needs is the price they must pay for their family’s ability to live together in the U.S. lawfully," said Dunkelberg.

“Texans should understand that they are not alone, and we will fight this terrible policy. Public outcry for the federal administration to withdraw the rule is critical, along with support for Congressional legislation to stop the rule. We expect legal challenges to this regulation.”



The Center for Public Policy Priorities and Children’s Defense Fund-Texas are partners in the national Protecting Immigrant Families campaign. Organizations interested in coordinating with Texas efforts to oppose this policy may contact Cheasty Anderson or Anne Dunkelberg.

2019 Legislative Wrap-Up

Center for Public Policy Priorities
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