Trump’s proposed changes to “public charge” cause panic among immigrant families, with or without “papers”

Hundreds of thousands of immigrant parents in California may disenroll their children from health insurance, food stamps and other federally subsidized programs because they fear that receiving these benefits will make it impossible for them to become permanent residents in the United States.

Their fears have been triggered by new regulations proposed by the Trump administration that expand the number of benefits that immigration officers can take into account in deciding whether to deny an immigrant permanent residence in the United States. Federal law allows immigration officials to deny green cards to immigrants if authorities decide they are likely to become a “public charge” — someone who relies excessively on government benefits to survive.

The draft regulations are currently open for public comments until Dec. 10th.

Administrators at community clinics, school-based health centers and agencies serving children say some parents in California are already choosing not to enroll or withdrawing their children from health and nutrition programs.

A parent asked First 5 Alameda, an agency that supports families with small children, to stop seeking early intervention services from a local school district for their toddler with autism. A teenage mother in the Central Valley asked to withdraw from the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) one month before giving birth. A grandmother in San Francisco asked North East Medical Services, a federally funded community clinic, to purge her grandchildren’s medical records.

“It’s causing fear, it’s causing confusion and it’s really impacting kids,” said Mayra Alvarez, president of The Children’s Partnership, a nonprofit children’s advocacy organization.

To read the whole article, go to EdSource, where the story was first reported by Zaidee Stavely.

You can also listen to a radio story in English at Public Radio International.

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