The Trump administration’s latest attack on immigrants, a proposed rule that would punish families for accessing public benefits, has rightfully come under fire for its potential to threaten children’s health and impose financial hardship on households and communities. Under the proposal, the Department of Homeland Security could block green cards and visas for lawful immigrants who use, or are considered likely to use, essential family support programs. Across the country, there is already widespread evidence that merely proposing changes to the “public charge” rule is causing fear and confusion, deterring families from accessing basic necessities such as food, housing, and health care out of fear that their future in the United States may be put at risk. Business leaders, physicians, teachers, and food bank operators are among the groups speaking out against the prospective change.
But one part of the proposal has received less attention: a bizarre plan for officials to use immigrants’ personal credit information (credit reports and scores) as part of the assessment to qualify for a green card or visa. Using an irrelevant measure like a credit score to assess immigration status is not only absurd, it puts the federal government’s stamp of approval on the growing misuse of credit information that impacts all Americans.