HARLINGEN, RGV – Eddie Anaya, attorney and executive committee member of Valley Interfaith, has warned Rio Grande Valley residents what could happen to families if President Donald Trump’s “public charge” goes into effect.
Recently, Trump proposed a rule change stating undocumented immigrants will be penalized for getting public assistance such as Medicaid and food stamps through their documented children, if they apply for legal status. Anaya says this will greatly affect undocumented residents who go through the legal process of becoming a U.S. citizen.
“This will change and circumvent the immigration process as we know it right now. Based on this public charge, those going through the process will be asked if they ever received any public assistance from the federal government either through themselves or their children. At that point, more than likely the interviewer will not allow them to become residents because their American children received those benefits,” said Anaya, pictured above.
“If you’re denied your petition you’re going to be asked to leave. In essence, what they’re doing is separating the families. That’s going to impact every undocumented parent whose children have received public benefits. It’s going to impact a huge amount of individuals who are applying for their immigration papers in the right way.”
In a news release, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) stated:
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has proposed a rule change that would allow it to collect information concerning the potential sponsors of children who cross the border unaccompanied – and potentially use that information to arrest them. The proposal would also search and retain biometric information about the potential sponsors and people in their households.
Stephen Kang, detention attorney with the ACLU Immigrant Rights Project, had the following response:
“This proposed rule is yet another way this administration is using seemingly small changes in policy to expose children who came to this country seeking relief and protection to further harm. The government is required by law to promptly release unaccompanied children to custody settings that are in the best interest of the child, but now DHS is poised to make it harder for the Office of Refugee Resettlement to place children with sponsors. This will needlessly prolong children’s time in custody and obstruct their due process rights.”
The “public charge” is pending approval from the Department of Health and Human Services as well as DHS. U.S. Representatives Vicente Gonzalez of McAllen and Filemon Vela, Jr., of Brownsville, are two of 86 members of Congress who signed a letter to DHS and Office of Management and Budget (OMB) directors against the public charge.
Soon, there will be a hearing regarding the public charge and Anaya encourages the public to attend the hearing and have their voices heard.
“We need to fight it. There’s no reason why a parent should have to choose between food on the table, medical care for their children versus becoming a resident or an American citizen,” Anaya said. “And second, the public needs to be informed about this. I don’t believe there should be a change in the law without debate or the public being aware of it.”
According to its website, Valley Interfaith is a broad-based organization dedicated to the strengthening of a free and open society. It seeks responsive public service from all government levels, for all who live in the Rio Grande Valley. The organization is committed to non-violent and non-partisan community action for the just improvements in the region.