The National Hispanic Medical Association, representing 50,000 Hispanic physicians, strongly opposes the Public Charge Proposal that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced on September 22, 2018. The proposed rule change would greatly undermine achievements made in access to prevention and medical care for Latino legal immigrants by limiting nutrition, health care, and medications and housing assistance programs, which are essential to living a healthy life, said Dr. Elena Rios, president & CEO of the National Hispanic Medical Association, and we fear many immigrants who have been long-term U.S. workers will be deported.
Since 1892, the Federal immigration law has a public charge test that makes immigrants ineligible for entry to the United States or permanent residence (green card), if they depend or may in the future depend on government as their main resource for living expenses. Under current policy government support of emergency health care, prevention of infectious diseases, disaster relief, nutrition programs, and housing assistance programs are not counted towards public charge. The benefits considered in determining who is likely to become a public charge are cash assistance such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and government-funded institutional long-term care. Furthermore, the Clinton-era welfare reforms already put major social service programs out of reach for most legal immigrants until theyve been here for five years.
The Trump Administration is now calling for healthcare and other benefits that meet basic needs that could be considered in a public charge determination such as:
- Non-emergency Medicaid (with limited exceptions for certain disability services related to education),
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP),
- Low-Income Subsidy for prescription drug costs under Medicare Part D, and
- Housing assistance such as Section 8 housing vouchers.
The proposal would makeand has already madeimmigrant families afraid to seek programs that support their basic needs. If the rule is finalized in its proposed form, this would mark a significant and harmful departure from the current policy and call for a direct attack at poor immigrants, thus favoring upper-class immigrants. And it is irresponsible of this administration to make immigrant families choose between keeping their families healthy or risk being denied a green card. Many poor immigrant families have children who are eligible for these public benefits as American citizens, and their parents should not be punished for utilizing these services.
The National Hispanic Medical Association will submit and encourage its partners to submit public comments opposing the Trump Administration public charge rule change proposal, in order to support poor Latino legal immigrants. We are a country of immigrants, who are the backbone of the economy.
The National Hispanic Medical Association is located in Washington, DC “ www.NHMAmd.org.
National Hispanic Medical Association
Pedro Montenegro, 202-628-5895