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Below are excerpts from a powerful op-ed in the New York Times as well as a response from the Washington Post’s editorial board. Both speak to our foundational values and the attack on them by the new Public Charge Rule. This proposed change represents a radical shift in how immigrants are treated in American, and was rushed out by Stephen Miller, Francis Cissna and their gang of nativists sprinkled throughout the Trump administration before Election Day for transparently political purposes.
Dr. Tung Nguyen, a professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco and Sherry Hirota, the chief executive of Asian Health Services write for the New York Times (excerpted):
When Kam Tam came to the United States at age 16 from China 50 years ago, he spoke little English, had a mouthful of rotten teeth and active tuberculosis, and weighed just 96 pounds. Through perseverance and a little help, he got his health back in order. The providers at his publicly funded community health center in San Francisco pulled four molars and cured his tuberculosis.
It was the character instilled by his parents that got him through college and pharmacy school, Dr. Tam said. Today, he is a successful businessman and pharmacist who has repaid society for the support he and his family received. He continues to generously give back by donating his professional services and financial resources to vulnerable families in Oakland.
Yet under a rule proposed last week by the Department of Homeland Security, legal immigrants could lose their chance to become a success story like Dr. Tam because they used government benefits they were entitled to. The Trump administration wants lawful permanent residence, also known as green-card status, to be denied to greater numbers of legal immigrants for having received public assistance.
… Even immigrants who received relatively small amounts of assistance for short periods might now be deemed “public charges” and be ineligible for green cards. In the worst case, legal immigrants who have built lives in this country could be denied permanent legal status and be separated from their families. The proposal could become final after a 60-day public review period.
Treating immigrants as public charges is based on the unfair principle that income and wealth determine one’s value to society. Immigrants who play by the rules, pay taxes and contribute to their communities could now risk deportation if they did not have enough savings to survive unanticipated emergencies. They could be forced to choose between healthcare and food for their children and a chance to stay in this country.
… We must defend our identity as one nation that shares a common vision and values, that was built on hard work, strong families, respect and kindness. These values dictate that we care for one another, that we know that we are only as strong as the most vulnerable among us.
The Washington Post editorial board (excerpted):
The proposal is the administration’s latest assault on immigrants who are here legally, to complement the offensive it has waged against the undocumented. In President Trump’s world, that distinction is increasingly without a difference, as White House officials scour federal rules in search of any available means to drive down the nation’s foreign-born population, now at its highest level in a century.
In this case, the new blueprint would radically shift the government’s definition of immigrants classified as “public charges,” meaning burdens to public resources. That classification would make them ineligible for many visas and green cards, which confer nearly every privilege of citizenship except voting in federal elections. And it would do so in a rulemaking end run around Congress, which would have no say in modifying or approving the new policy.
The proposed rule is punitive, mean-spirited and self-defeating. This nation has been built with huge contributions from immigrants who arrived with nothing, needed a hand for a while and eventually prospered. The new rule would force legal immigrants to choose between advancing their prospects for a green card, and availing themselves of benefits that would keep them and their children well fed, well sheltered and in good health — a choice the proposal itself acknowledges by saying it may result in “increased rates of poverty and housing instability” and “worse health outcomes.” Even existing green-card holders may balk at using benefits, for fear their future status might be jeopardized.
…The version announced this past Saturday is sufficiently draconian, however, to dovetail with the administration’s relentless crusade against immigrants of nearly every variety.