The Administration made yet another attack on immigrant families by proposing sweeping changes to longstanding immigration policy. Over the weekend, the Department of Homeland Security announced a proposed “public charge” rule that will make it much more difficult for immigrants, especially older adults, to enter the U.S. or become permanent residents. Under this proposal, the Administration is greatly expanding the scope of the “public charge” test to consider whether immigrants seeking entry to the U.S. or on the road to citizenship have received or sought assistance with health care, food, and other necessities.
The effects would be devastating. The rule would directly impact many of the programs that older adults rely on, such as Medicaid and the Medicare Part D Low Income Subsidy, SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), and housing assistance. Many immigrants and their families- already fear the consequences of seeking public benefits. This proposed change in “public charge” policy would exacerbate that fear and lead to even more older adults living in poverty, not having enough to eat, and compromising their health and well-being. It would add fuel to our country’s growing racial divide and increase the health and economic security disparities older immigrants and their families already face.
Older immigrants, who make up 15% of seniors age 65 and older, live in families where they provide care and are cared for. In addition, an increasing share of paid caregivers for older adults are immigrants, and many immigrants in the direct care workforce are themselves over age 55. As the needs of older adults continue to grow, immigrants strengthen our communities and provide even more care. Our communities also benefit from the contributions of younger immigrant workers, who pay into Social Security and Medicare for decades, thereby strengthening the financing of these programs for us all.
We strongly oppose this proposed rule and urge the Administration to withdraw it. The Administration’s choice to misuse our nation’s immigration policies to attack immigrants and their families causes serious and irreparable harm and is contrary to our country’s values. We need to recognize the important connections between immigration and the well-being of all older adults in our communities and advance policies that support immigrants, families, and all of us.
Justice in Aging is working with partners through the Protecting Immigrant Families campaign to fight back.
There will be a 60-day comment period once the rule is published in the federal register. It is incredibly important that groups and individuals who represent the aging community submit comments to formally oppose this change in policy. We will provide tools to respond and analysis of the proposed rule’s particular harms to older adults in the coming days.
In the meantime, you can learn more about public charge at ProtectingImmigrantFamilies.org.