On October 10, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued a proposed rule that will greatly expand the what is known as the “public charge” test. The public charge test allows for denying entry to or permanent residency in the United States based upon the likelihood an individual will need government benefits. Currently, the only benefits considered are cash benefits such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), comparable state and local programs, and institutional long-term care (including through Medicaid). Under the proposed rule, an individual could be considered a public charge for using or applying for a broader range of benefits including most Medicaid programs, housing assistance, or food assistance. The Arc opposes the proposed rule because it will result in discrimination against legal immigrants with disabilities. Read The Arc’s full statement here.
Recently, the Administration announced a change in immigration policy that has resulted in children being separated from their parents at the US-Mexico border. Historically, crossing the border illegally was considered a civil offense and parents were able to stay with their children while legal proceedings were carried out (for example, to determine whether the family qualified for asylum). Under the new policy, crossing the border illegally is considered a criminal offense. Children are not allowed to stay with their parents while criminal proceedings are carried out because adult detention facilities cannot ensure child safety. Last Friday The Arc released a statement regarding the forced immigrant family separations that are occurring at the U.S.-Mexico border. “The Arc stands with the immigrant community and the many organizations and individuals that have come out in opposition to this abhorrent practice,” said Peter Berns, CEO of The Arc. “The notion of uniformed, federal border protection agents forcibly separating parents from their children is outrageous.” Read The Arc’s full statement here.
Senators Tom Cotton (R-AR) and David Perdue (R-GA) introduced the Reforming American Immigration for Strong Employment (RAISE) Act (S.354), which would cut the total number of legal immigrants allowed in the country in half and make substantial changes to the system. The bill eliminates the diversity immigrant visa category and creates a new visa system that awards points to potential immigrants based on such things as education and English-language ability. Other provisions include limiting the number of refugees granted permanent residence to 50,000; banning all members of an immigrant’s household, including U.S. citizens, from receiving public assistance for five years; and prohibiting U.S. citizens from sponsoring their parents’ immigration into the U.S. These provisions could disadvantage immigrants with disabilities, particularly people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Additionally, this could lead to fewer immigrants being able to work as direct support professionals, exacerbating an already severe workforce shortage. Contrary to claims that immigration is harming the economy, 1,470 economists from across the political spectrum sent a letter to President Trump and Congressional leadership stating that immigration provides the country with “broad economic benefit.” The Arc opposes the RAISE Act.