Unison Executive Director Responds to Proposed Amendments to Federal Public Charge Regulations

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Earlier this month, the Department of Homeland Security announced its final rule on “Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds”– the policies used by the agency to determine whether an individual applying for admission or adjustment of status is inadmissible to the U.S.

While the federal government could always deny an individual entry into the U.S. or adjustment to legal permanent resident status (i.e. green card) if he or she was determined likely to become a “public charge” (i.e. a person considered primarily dependent on the government for subsistence), these recent policy changes have expanded the list of benefits so broadly that it now includes programs like Medicaid, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and any federal housing assistance including participation in the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program or the Section 8 Project Based Rental Assistance Program, and residency in any HUD-funded Public Housing development.

Unison strongly opposes this policy and the harmful statement the federal government will make when it goes into effect on October 15.

By taking this action, we believe the U.S. government is setting a precedent that anyone facing economic and social barriers to housing, education, health and work is not welcome here. Not only will this policy lead to higher application denial rates for noncitizens seeking admission to the U.S., noncitizens applying for lawful permanent resident status and those seeking an extension of or changes to their non-immigrant status, it will equally impact citizens by perpetuating harmful stereotypes about poverty and fuel public fear.

Poverty is not the result of individual choices. It is the result of systemic injustice embedded into economics, politics and discrimination. It disproportionately impacts people who are immigrants, African Americans, Latinos and children. It also impacts our members and their desire to create a life they aspire to live.

We find this policy to be in conflict with both the core beliefs of Unison Housing Partners and our understanding of the founding principles of our nation. We see a better future for America – one that acknowledges the value and dignity of every individual.

Peter LiFari
Executive Director
Unison Housing Partners

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