A new Department of Homeland Security regulation published Monday will harm the health and well-being of thousands of Alabama families. The so-called public charge rule also will threaten access to health and human services programs for U.S.-born citizen children.
When proposed last fall, the regulation drew more than 266,000 public comments, overwhelmingly in opposition. The feedback included opposition from Alabama Arise, our members and allies.
The final regulation could deny admissions to the United States or green card applications if an immigrant or a member of a legal immigrant’s family uses Medicaid, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Section 8 rent vouchers or Medicare low-income subsidies for prescription drugs. Citizenship applications are not subject to the public charge regulation. Refugees and asylum applicants are also exempt.
Conservative estimates peg the regulation’s impact at 26 million people nationwide and nearly 200,000 people in Alabama. This includes one-fourth of all U.S. children and more than 60,000 Alabama children who live in immigrant families. The majority of these children were born in the United States.
“This rule threatens the health and safety of hard-working Alabama families and their children,” Alabama Arise executive director Robyn Hyden said. “Alabama Arise stands with our partners in the immigrant community, and we support efforts to stop this cruel rule in the courts and in Congress.
”We call on other Alabamians of faith and conscience to do the same. We ask Senators Doug Jones and Richard Shelby and our congressional delegation to act now to override this rule and protect all Alabama families.”
The rule will make life even harder for millions of families who already work hard to make ends meet. Child poverty, hunger, substandard housing and other drivers of poor health outcomes are likely to increase when immigrants are afraid to apply for assistance to which they have a legal right. And because immigrants targeted by these rules are overwhelmingly people of color, racial health disparities are likely to widen as well.