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Press Release // Immigration and Asylum

“Public Charge” Rule Unfairly Attacks Immigrant Children and Families

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Global Refuge Staff

August 12, 2019

You shall also love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.

Deuteronomy 10:19

Public Charge Rule Unfairly Attacks Immigrant Children and Families is Un-American and an Attack on Christian Values

Today the administration announced that it will publish its long-awaited “Public Charge” rule on Wednesday, August 14 – an unprecedented policy decision that will lead to permanent family separation and force families of all immigration statuses to forego benefits that they are lawfully entitled to receive themselves or on behalf of their U.S. citizen children.

“Today we saw a new line of attack on immigration – this time on hard-working, tax-paying families.  It makes a mockery of the Statue of Liberty’s famous welcome of the tired, the poor and the huddled masses – and instead signals: The poor need not apply,” said Krish O’Mara Vignarajah, president & CEO of Global Refuge.

The new rule will allow authorities to deny legal immigration status if a person has used certain forms of public assistance, or if they are deemed likely to do so in the future. In anticipation of the rule, researchers have already noted a significant chilling effect among families of all immigration statuses in relation to public benefits. According to a May survey by the Urban Institute, 14.7 percent of adults in permanent resident families, a population not targeted by the rule, reported they avoided public assistance out of immigration status concerns.

“The administration’s latest policy ignores these families’ legal right to seek assistance, opting to penalize the most vulnerable immigrants in our country instead,” said Vignarajah. “The rule will disproportionately affect hardworking families, the young, elderly and disabled—those who most need a helping hand to be successful, contributing members of society.”

The changes appear to be based on a belief that immigrants receive more in public benefits than they pay in taxes. Data collected from both governmental and non-governmental institutions consistently contradict this thinking. According to an HHS study, researchers found that between 2005 and 2014, refugees and asylees here from 1980 on contributed $63 billion more to government revenues than they used in public services.

“This administration continues to make the deeply flawed case that immigrants are a drain on society. This rule ignores the fact that, on average, each immigrant we welcome makes a net positive contribution of $259,000 to our nation, according to a recent report from the Tax Policy Center” continued Vignarajah.

Faith-based groups have been particularly vocal in their opposition to the new public charge rule as a matter of religious principle. Biblical scripture includes more than 2,000 references to poverty and how Christians are to live out God’s love for the destitute.

“As people of faith, we must raise our voices in opposition to this heartless policy and remind our leaders of the word of God as clearly explained in Matthew 5:5 — blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.”

For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me.

Matthew 25:35

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