The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has proposed changing how it tests whether a visa or green card applicant is a “public charge.” The proposal will harm public health and the economy in our community and across the nation by discouraging legal immigrants from accepting help for food, housing and health care.
WHAT’S A PUBLIC CHARGE?
CURRENTLY, anyone likely to be primarily dependent on the government is considered a “public charge” and is ineligible for immigration to the US.
THE PROPOSAL expands public charge to include anyone who has used, or is likely to use, additional programs including SNAP (food stamps), Medicaid and housing assistance.
The proposal would reduce access to programs for basics we all need to survive. In fact, service providers report that the proposal has already made immigrant families afraid to seek programs that help them stay strong and thrive.
- Most would-be immigrants applying for visas.
- Most immigrants with current visas if they apply for a different type of visa or a green card, including immigrants whose children are US citizens.
- One in four children live with an immigrant parent and nine in ten children with immigrant parents are US citizens.
WOULD YOUR FAMILY HAVE PASSED THE TEST?
Under the proposed rule, only immigrants with incomes above 250% of the federal poverty level would qualify for a new visa, a change in visas or a green card. That means, a family of four would need $62,750 per year to pass the test.
One in three US citizens would fail if the proposed financial test was applied to them today. That includes more than 550,000 residents in metro KC. Beth Low-Smith, Director of the Greater KC Food Policy Coalition, says her great-grandparents, who were immigrant farm workers, would have been too poor to pass the proposed test. Would your family have passed the test?
THE PROPOSED RULE WOULD:
- HURT OUR ECONOMY. Less food and housing assistance means less money in our regional economy.
- DEEPEN POVERTY & STRAIN CHARITIES. More families will turn to food pantries and other struggling charities for help. Meanwhile, local food pantries report that they are already straining to meet existing needs.
- WORSEN FARM WORKER SHORTAGES. Roughly 158,000 immigrant workers currently call Kansas and Missouri home. If fewer immigrants are granted visas, it will hurt farms, food processors and other industries already facing worker shortages.
- MAKE COMMUNITIES SICKER. The Johnson County Department of Health & Environment confirms they have already seen drops in enrollment for nutrition and health programs among eligible immigrants in response to the proposal.
- HARM WORKERS & STUDENTS. Hunger, homelessness and lack of medical care reduce worker productivity and achievement.
TAKE ACTION TODAY!
We can stop this proposal! Proposals like this one can be withdrawn, modified or delayed, and they frequently are.
Do your part by submitting public comment by Dec 10. It’s basically like writing a letter. Federal law requires that government officials must review all unique (not template-generated) comments submitted before making a decision on a proposed rule change.
Tell the Department of Homeland Security how this rule would spike hunger in our nation and that it should be withdrawn.
Here’s a template to help you get started. Fill in the blanks to make your comment unique:
As a ___ (add description of yourself/or your organization) ___ , I am/we are submitting comment today to oppose the proposed public charge rule.
The proposal will ___ (briefly describe negative impact(s) that concerns you) ___.
The negative consequences for the proposed rule are serious. ___ (share examples of how you/your community/organization will be harmed) ____.
This matters because ____ (offer supporting evidence/data or cite the American value at stake) ____.The proposed changes to the public charge rule are ____ (sum up your position) ____ and must be rejected.