The Administration’s “Public Charge” Proposal Threatens the Security of Immigrant Families and Communities

Release Date: 
December 10, 2018

Statement to be attributed to the director of partnerships at Demos, Causten E. Rodriguez-Wollerman

My mom, Elsa, is an immigrant from Mexico who worked hard to provide for our family. At some points in my childhood, she had to access public assistance programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and unemployment benefits because she was laid off by the corporations she worked for.

When we faced hard financial times, my mom taught me that these programs were made available for anyone who needed them, and to be grateful that our tax dollars could pay into a system that people could rely on in times of need regardless of where they came from or their skin color.

The Trump administration’s “public charge” regulation would have harmed people like me and my mom.  The regulation would add so many new criteria to determine whether an immigrant is likely to become a public charge that it could include hard-working people like my mother. Public charge is defined as a person likely to become “primarily dependent” on government assistance.

Additionally, the use of a person’s credit history to determine whether someone is a public charge makes no sense. Credit scores and reports were never intended to for this purpose; they are a critically inappropriate tool to use. Many immigrants have toiled hard to avoid taking on debt, and therefore may have scant credit history or none at all.

Policies like these are a blatant attempt to divide us and target the wellbeing of poor families and new immigrants. With Trump’s proposed changes to the public charge regulation, immigrants’ ability to become legal permanent residents is at risk, and their families could be adversely affected.

Americans need to be greater than fear, and make this country a place that honors all families, no exceptions. We can, and must, establish fair and safe immigration processes for all families. As the proud son of an immigrant mother who labored tirelessly to support our family, I urge the Department of Homeland Security to retract this illogical and damaging “public charge” proposal.

##