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Ari Ne'eman @aneeman
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This is a terrifying assault on people with disabilities, especially disabled people of color. It makes use of legal tools born of xenophobia and eugenic fear-mongering. #CripTheVote
The "public charge" statute was put into US immigration law by the Immigration Act of 1882, passed in response to a growing wave of anti-immigrant sentiment against the Irish, Chinese and other relatively new immigrant groups.
It specifically targeted “any convict, lunatic, idiot, or any person unable to take care of himself or herself without becoming a public charge" - from the very beginning, the law sought to exclude disabled people from the country. #DisHist
The "public charge" provision proved to be a valuable tool in the hands of the eugenics movement, a highly influential racist and ableist social movement of the early 20th century.
Eugenicists sought to remove disabled people from the population in the name of improving "the American race".
They claimed that certain ethnic groups were more likely to be disabled. Based on this claim, eugenicists succeeded in passing the 1924 Immigration Act, which set quotas based on the proportion of each ethnic group in the 1890 census.
For those of you who aren't familiar, the 1924 Immigration Act has been praised by AG Jeff Sessions. The law's quotas played a significant role in preventing Jewish refugees from entering the US to escape the Nazi extermination project. theatlantic.com/politics/archi…
This is the historical and statutory milieu that the "public charge" regulation draws on - a provision that was put into law for discriminatory purposes and was used to further some of the darkest periods in our country's history.
It's worth taking a moment to talk about the specifics of how the proposed DHS regulation changes existing implementation of the "public charge" law. You can read the proposed reg itself here, if you want: dhs.gov/sites/default/…
.@mboteach has a great thread on the broader impacts of this rule on many different groups.

I'm going to expand on some of the specific disability implications. #CripTheVote
The "public charge" statute allows the government to deny prospective immigrants a visa and existing ones a green card if they are using or are likely to use public benefits. This provision is now interpreted in a fairly specific way, however.
Existing policy states that someone is considered a "public charge" if they are likely to become "primarily dependent" on the government, either through cash assistance (like SSI or SSDI) or long-term institutionalization. uscis.gov/greencard/publ…
This obviously harms people with disabilities, many people of color and other groups as is. The new Trump rule, however, would expand that policy significantly.
Currently, DHS interprets "primarily dependent" to mean that someone has half of their income/support from public benefits. The Trump rule would change this to anyone who receives cash or cash-like benefits equal to 15% of the federal poverty guideline. The proposed 15 percent of FPG threshold would represent a change from the standard set forth in the 1999 INS proposed rule and Interim Field Guidance, which generally define a public charge as a person who is
This is a vastly more harmful standard. For a single person, 15% of the FPG would mean about $151.75/month. For a family of four, it would mean $313.75/month. Anyone receiving that level of assistance would be considered a "public charge" and unable to get a green card. To illustrate, an alien receives monetizable public benefits between April 2017 and March 2018. DHS would compare the amount received for the 12 consecutive month period against 15 percent of FPG applicable to each month in question. Fifteen percent of FPG is $150.75 per month for April through December 2017 and $151.75 per month for January through March 2018 based on the respective poverty guidelines in effect for
Anyone deemed likely to need that kind of relatively meager assistance could be denied a visa to enter the country. People with disabilities and families with children with disabilities are particularly likely to be hurt by this. #CripTheVote
Some of you may recall the outrage about Canada's policy restricting access for disabled immigrants. This is the expansion of the US equivalent. washingtonpost.com/posteverything…
The harm would not stop there, however. The rule would also start counting non-monetizable public benefits towards the definition of a "public charge".
The Trump rule indicates that any person who spends more than 12 months receiving Medicaid or any number of other non-monetizable benefits (such as housing assistance) would be considered a "public charge". iii. Twelve Month Standard for Non-Monetizable Benefits<br />
In addition to proposing a 15 percent threshold for assessing the alien's likelihood to remain or become self-sufficient in the context of receipt of monetizable public benefits (e.g., cash assistance and SNAP, DHS is proposing to consider the receipt of certain non-monetizable public benefits (e.g., Medicaid) if received for more than 12 cumulative months durin
Each type of support someone accesses counts as a separate month, even if they overlap. For example, if a person with a disability accessed housing assistance for 6 months and Medicaid for 9 months, this would be considered 15 months - triggering "public charge" status. By way of illustration, under the proposed policy, an alien's receipt of Medicaid for 9 months and receipt of public housing for 6 months, if both occurred within the same 36-month period, would amount to 15 months of receipt of non-monetizable benefits, regardless of whether these periods of times overlapped, were consecutive, or occurred at different points in time during the 36-month period. As such, the receipt o
People with disabilities who use Medicaid Home and Community Based Services would almost certainly fall under the "public charge" rule by this definition, making it impossible for them to get green cards. #CripTheVote
Since HCBS is usually ongoing and does not have a clear private sector equivalent, this is effectively a ban on people who need HCBS gaining a green card (a pre-requisite for American citizenship). #CripTheVote
What's more, since "likelihood" of public charge status is considered when someone applies for a visa, it may well result in a ban on people with significant disabilities immigrating to the United States. #CripTheVote
There are many other harmful components of this regulation, which will be analyzed in more detail by some very knowledgable immigration advocates in the coming days.
The rule will have to go through a comment period before it comes into effect - flooding that comment opportunity with objections will be crucial. DHS is required to read through all comments and respond to the points they make in the final rule.
Commenting DOES matter, and I urge you to do it when the comment period opens later this week.
But this is also an area in which calls to your Member of Congress, letters to the editor to your local newspaper and getting involved in organizations that work to defend immigrant rights are all very needed.
The Trump Administration does a lot of evil things, and it can be easy to be so overwhelmed they become background noise. This is particularly noteworthy, however, and I hope those of you who can will work to fight it.
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