The Administration is considering new rules which will allow the federal government to deny people seeking to enter the U.S. legally or who are extending their legal status, if they have received or are deemed likely to use in the future a broad set of public benefits. This “public charge” is a sharp departure from current practice and would impact a wide range of circumstances, including children, who are often U.S. citizens and their family.
Many Christian groups, including society supporters from the Evangelical, Pentecostal, Mainline Christian, and Roman Catholic communities are engaged in questions of immigration and share our view that such a change would only worsen the moral climate around immigration.
Solutions that help return the United States to fair and just immigrations practices are needed. The Public Charge is not one of those solutions.
We have a particular concern that pregnant women, new mothers, and young children could be adversely affected. Fearing a negative immigration consequence, pregnant women may forgo health care and nutrition programs critical to a healthy pregnancy. And, hard working families could be afraid to seek health care and food assistance for their children, making it harder for them to grow and develop and ultimately thrive in school. In particular we want to make sure that Medicaid, SNAP, WIC, and CHIP are kept off this list of programs considered in this public charge determination, as they have been under the current policy that goes back decades.
These programs provide critical health and nutrition support for children and hard-working families.
We are concerned that in too many local communities probing into use of benefits will create a deadening effect on those who need to go to the doctor for the well being of the unborn child and young children.
The public charge is a bad policy idea and should be taken off the table as a tool to help restore a more just immigration system. The administration should set this rule aside.
(photo flickr creative commons Mathieu Thouvenin)