Today is the last day for public comments regarding the Trump administration’s punitive and discriminatory “public charge” rule.  This proposed rule would take the radical and unprecedented step of counting any of the following things against individuals applying for entry to the country or legal permanent resident (LPR or green card) status:

  • The use of benefits that low-income families, many of whom are working, use to make ends meet: Medicaid, nutrition assistance and housing assistance, and the Medicare Part D Low-Income Subsidy that helps with the cost of medicine;
  • Having income of less than 125% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL);
  • Being younger than 18 or older than 60;
  • Having a large family;
  • Not being proficient in English; and
  • Having a critical medical condition without insurance coverage.

The radical changes in the proposed rule would skew our immigration system in favor of the wealthy, and against those seeking opportunity in this country. And this proposal, like the Muslim ban, family detention policies, and restrictions on refugees, is just another form of family separation.

This proposed rule targets immigrants of color and women for exclusion with almost surgical precision. And it would deeply harm immigrants who are women and people of color, and their families. A recent study found that immigrants from Mexico, Central America, the Caribbean, Asia, South America and Africa would have a higher risk of denial than immigrants from Europe or Canada under this proposed rule. And the same study found that women may be more likely to be denied green cards under the proposed rule, as compared to immigrant men.

The administration’s proposed “public charge” is a thinly veiled race and gender test – no surprise from a President who speaks of s***hole countries and has sought to undermine women’s autonomy and dignity at every turn. This outrages me as an advocate. But this is also personal. Like millions of others across the country, my family has an immigration story.

Almost fifty years ago, my mom emigrated to this country from Malaysia. She raised three daughters, cutting our hair and making our clothes when times were tight. I know without a doubt that I owe my education, my health, and the fact that I can now provide for my own family, to my mom’s sacrifices and hard work. She took care of family members when they were undergoing cancer treatment. She’s worked for a paycheck, but also volunteered thousands of hours of her time in schools and community gardens. My mom has contributed immeasurably to my family, our community, and this nation. But if this rule had been in place in 1970, immigration officials might have concluded that she would end up being a burden to society — and denied her application.

My mom has lived in this country for almost half a century – and yes, she is a naturalized citizen. But she has said that in the current climate, she has been made to feel like she doesn’t belong here. And our cringeworthy family joke over the past two years is that my dad should hide her in the basement whenever the doorbell rings. But this rule and everything it represents is truly no joke.

My parents’ 48th wedding anniversary is this week. To honor my mother and my belief in the best version of this country, I made my voice heard and submitted a public comment in opposition to the proposed “public charge” rule. On the last day of the public comment period, I ask you to do the same.

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