MAZON Sickened by Trump Administration’s Final Rule to Revise “Public Charge” Definition

August 12, 2019

MAZON Sickened by Trump Administration’s Final Rule
to Revise “Public Charge” Definition

New Policy Threatens Well-Being of Millions

Washington, DC (August 12, 2019) — This morning, the Trump Administration issued a regulation to radically expand the criteria for determining who is considered a “public charge” under U.S. immigration law to include those who are receiving benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). This draconian policy change is expected to impact 47% of immigrants living in the U.S. — 10.3 million people — who could be barred from obtaining legal status in the U.S., unable to sponsor family members in the U.S., and at risk of deportation.

In addition to revising the “public charge” definition, DHS will introduce an unprecedented income test and negatively weigh factors in immigration cases including age, family size, medical conditions, and English language proficiency. These changes will be published this week in the Federal Register and are expected to go into effect in October. In response to the announcement of DHS’ final rule, Abby J. Leibman, President & CEO of MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger, said:

“We are sickened by the Trump Administration’s most recent attack on immigrant families, targeting immigrants with proper documentation who accept temporary help from federal assistance programs. Make no mistake — this regulation undermines decades of U.S. policy, and threatens the stability of American farms and businesses, whose low-wage immigrant workers access programs like SNAP in order to survive.

“The Trump Administration is making history in all the wrong ways — for the first time, U.S. immigration officials will be instructed to consider non-cash basic needs benefits (including vital food assistance from SNAP) in considering immigrants’ qualifications for admission or adjustment of status. The rule will largely impact family reunification cases. Even before today’s final rule announcement, families have been electing to forgo nutrition assistance to avoid jeopardizing their immigration cases. We find this completely unacceptable — nobody should be forced to choose between accepting government assistance and living in safety in the country they call home.

“As a Jewish organization, this cruel policy is an affront to our values and to thousands of years of our teachings. As an American anti-hunger organization, this policy is contrary to our deeply-held belief that everyone deserves access to the resources they need to feed themselves and their families. And as Americans, we are mortified by what this suggests about a change in the values that we long-believed to be essential tenets of our democracy.

“Last year when the Administration proposed this rule change, MAZON’s formal comments to DHS highlighted that an estimated one-third of U.S. citizens — 107 million people — would fail to meet the revised public charge standards. Today, we stand resolved in our commitment to fight against this unreasonable and vindictive policy.”