NEW YORK – President Donald Trump’s proposed “public charge” rule will disproportionately impact the Indian and Bangladeshi communities, especially children, elderly, poor, those with limited English proficiency and those suffering from medical conditions/disabilities, from establishing legal permanent residency in the United States.
The proposed rule will also restrict legal immigration from Asia, along with hurting those who are already living in the US and wish to adjust their status to permanent residency, according to officials of the Asian American Federation, who held a joint press conference with the New York City’s Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs and Human Resources Administration, to discuss the issue with media personnel, on November 30th, in New York City.
The public charge rule will have a major impact on South Asian immigrant communities, as more than 10 percent of all green card applicants are from South Asia, as of the years 2016, officials said.
Officials pointed out that nearly 472,000 or 10% of the approximately five million South Asians in the US live in poverty. Among South Asian Americans, Pakistanis (15.8%), Nepali (23.9%), Bangladeshis (24.2%), and Bhutanese (33.3%) had the highest poverty rates. Bangladeshi and Nepali communities have the lowest median household incomes out of all Asian American groups, earning $49,800 and $43,500, respectively.
Nearly 61% of non-citizen Bangladeshi families receive public benefits for at least one of the four federal programs including TANF, SSI, SNAP, and Medicaid/CHIP; and 48% of non-citizen Pakistani families and 11% of non-citizen Indian families also receive public benefits.
On a citywide basis, the de Blasio Administration preliminary analysis has found that, if enacted, the proposal could result in an annual loss of $235 million in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, or “food stamps”), Cash Assistance, and Supplemental Security Income and the state supplement (SSI/SSP), if just 20% of the approximately 274,000 non-citizen New Yorkers currently receiving these benefits were to withdraw from participation.
It would also lead to an additional loss of $185 million in related economic activity, if the same group of New Yorkers were to withdraw from receiving these three named benefits.
The officials urged communities to note the fact that the proposed rule is not in effect and still has to go through a public process and public comments are being accepted for the Federal Register Notice up until Monday, December 10.
“Unique comments are highly recommended and must be submitted in English. We encourage those who need help translating their stories into English to reach out to their local community organizations. It’s important to tell individualized stories and arguments for how this affects you, your loved ones, and your community,” they said.
A press release listed these websites, to help in writing comments before submission:
Officials also exhorted that the proposed rule only applies going forward from any potential start date and any current benefits received will not be counted toward any public charge determination.
“So, do not disenroll from any benefits you currently have. Those eligible for applying for legal permanent residence should seek to do so as soon as possible. To make an appointment with an immigration legal services provider, call ActionNYC at 1-800-354- 0365 from 9 AM to 6 PM, Monday to Friday,” the press release said.
What does the proposed rule actually cover? The proposed rule will only impact a subset of immigrants, but will expand the existing public charge rule to include many more factors:
If you are applying to be lawful permanent resident (LPR or Green Card holders); if you are an LPR but have been out of the country for more than 6 months and are seeking to come back to the U.S; non-immigrant visa holders (i.e. students, tourists, temporary workers) who would like to stay longer or change to a different visa; foreign nationals seeking entry or reentry into the U.S.
The proposed ‘public charge’ rule does not apply to: current green card holders and U.S. citizens; public charge is not a part of the process when applying for citizenship; exceptions (these will not change): refugees and asylees, victims of trafficking, victims of domestic violence or other serious crimes (U & T visas), VAWA self-petitioners, Special Immigrant Juveniles (SIJS), and other protected groups. It also excludes benefits received by active duty service members, their spouses and children.
However, the proposed rule asks immigration officers to look at the totality of circumstance, meaning enrolling in benefits is only a small part of the evaluation. Age, income, education, health and English ability are all part of the proposed public charge rule. The federal administration also seeks to add additional health, nutrition and housing benefit programs like non-emergency Medicaid, Medicare Part D Low Income Subsidy, SNAP, and Section 8 housing assistance to the list of benefits covered by the Public Charge rule.
Jo-Ann Yoo, Executive Director of the Asian American Federation said, “There continues to be misinformation and misplaced fears about the proposed Public Charge rule within the pan-Asian community. We need to ensure that accurate information is put out to the community so vulnerable immigrants know that they can still apply for the assistance they need for daily existence. Those of us who have the privilege of serving our community need to submit comments to oppose the proposed rule change, and voice our anger that a system to help vulnerable Americans is at risk of being dismantled.”
“We will fight back against any attempt to threaten the well-being of hundreds of thousands of middle and working class immigrant families, including their U.S. citizen children,” Bitta Mostofi, Commissioner of the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs, stated, in the press release.
“Immigrant New Yorkers are the backbone of our economy and the Trump Administration’s latest proposal would undercut our progress to make NYC the fairest big city in the country. We wholly oppose this proposal and we’ll continue to share the most up-to-date information on how it could impact our fellow New Yorkers,” Mostofi said.
“This proposed rule from the Trump Administration is a direct attack on our City’s core values and the lifelines that millions of hard-working New Yorkers rely upon every day. We will not stand for it. We at DSS remain committed to connecting all New Yorkers in need to the benefits for which they are eligible, ensuring they can put food on the table and make ends meet, no matter where they’ve come from,” Department of Social Services Commissioner Steven Banks, said, in the press release.
NYC Council Member Margaret S. Chin has said, “Trump’s cruel proposal to change the Public Charge rule is another example of this White House’s hostility towards immigrants and its rejection of our most fundamental values as Americans,” while Rehan Mehmood, Director of Health Services at the South Asian Council for Social Services (SACSS) said, “With all the confusion surrounding immigration, and new proposed public charge rules, we are educating our communities that these rules do not apply to any current benefits people are eligible for.”