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Trump Punishes Children, Families by Targeting Nutrition and Health Care

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Donald Trump, as part of his white nationalist agenda, wants to kick immigrants already in the country out and keep future immigrants from coming in. As Reuters originally reported this month, he’s not above punishing children and families to do it, by threatening their ability to stay in the U.S. if they sign up for services like nutrition assistance or child health care.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has drafted new rules, first posted by Vox, that would allow the government to deny applications for certain visas or green cards if immigrants have used local, state, or federal social services for more than six months in the last two years. These services include:

  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI) that helps low or no-income aged, blind and disabled people with food, clothing and shelter.
  • Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF)
  • Local, state or federal cash benefits program
  • Medicaid
  • Health insurance subsidies under the Affordable Care Act
  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
  • Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) assistance for pregnant or nursing mothers and children
  • Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP)
  • Transportation vouchers
  • Housing assistance
  • Energy assistance like Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)
  • Education benefits like Head Start
  • Fee waivers for immigration forms and services

Undocumented immigrants are generally unable to access government programs and services, though their U.S. born children may be eligible. Legal immigrants are also eligible, meaning that Trump’s current efforts are trying to dissuade them from utilizing services that they have a legal right to and that their children and families may need.

The Trump Administration, so far, is not trying to penalize services or benefits available to the entire community such as:

  • Emergency or disaster relief or assistance
  • Soup kitchens, crisis counseling and intervention, short-term shelter
  • Immunizations
  • Public school and school lunch
  • Child care
  • Foster care and adoption
  • Unemployment insurance
  • Disability insurance
  • Worker’s compensation
  • Medicare
  • Government programs requiring repayment

The Trump Administration’s proposed new rules are “going to scare a lot of people into yanking their children off of needed healthcare, school programs, child nutrition programs, basic sorts of subsistence-level programs that have kept the population healthy and employable,” said Charles Wheeler, director of training and legal support at Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc.

Twitter users called Trump’s policy “cruel and indefensible” and “heartless and soulless.”

The National Immigration Law Center (NILC) tweeted a thread and released a statement highlighting the Trump Administration’s sneaky effort at attacking legal immigrants and their families:

This rule could have the effect of forcing low-income immigrant families — including U.S. citizen children — to make impossible choices between having the resources they need to thrive and reuniting with loved ones. It’s clear that this is nothing more than a backdoor effort to severely limit family immigration, which is part of the White House legislative framework.

The anti-poverty Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) released a joint statement with NILC and said “poverty, hunger, unmet health care needs would result from Trump backdoor immigration restrictions.” They also noted that:

Federal law guarantees the American people a chance to weigh in on this dangerous idea, and it gives Congress final approval over any major regulatory change.

If this regulation had been in place in 2016, nearly 383,000 people who received services would have been denied U.S. permanent residence and nearly 620,000 other immigrants living abroad who obtained U.S. permanent residence would have been impacted.

The Kaiser Family Foundation reported the Trump Administration’s proposed changes to our current immigration policies would lead to decreased participation in Medicaid, CHIP, and other programs. A separate Kaiser health disparity study of immigrants found that in 2016, 17 percent of lawfully present immigrants were uninsured compared to 9 percent of U.S. citizens.