On October 10th of this year, the Trump administration issued a statement attempting to change admissibility requirements on the basis of the Immigration and Nationality Act.  These proposed changes would cause difficulty for immigrant communities as it would change the requirements for someone to receive legal permanent residence, or “LPR status”, based on previous use of public benefits, labeling them as a “public charge” and more likely to become dependent on these programs.  These changes have raised issues, as they would make programs such as food stamps, public housing, and Medicaid less available to immigrant communities.

Many state Attorneys General have spoken out against this proposed change. Xavier Becerra, California’s state Attorney General, published a letter regarding these proposed changes to public charge and how they would affect California’s communities.  Becerra called the proposal “…an arbitrary and capricious attack with no legal justification.” Dr. Robert K. Ross of the California Endowment issued a public statement in response to the proposal saying, “This draft rule will also have far-reaching, and potentially lasting impacts on the health of families and children beyond those directly targeted by the proposed rule because, regardless of immigration status, fear and confusion will lead many families to withdraw from benefits to which they have a legal right.”  

Mural at West Campus High School depicts and celebrates the diversity of local communities

The legal implications of these changes are far-reaching and nationwide but at the same very personal and will drastically change many California communities.  As Becerra explained, California is proudly home to more than 10 million immigrants and these changes would be unconstitutional, target marginalized and vulnerable populations, undermine public health, and create a “chilling effect” in communities.

It’s clear to many that these proposed changes to admissibility requirements would drastically harm the health and well-being of American communities.  While the public comment period for the proposal has closed, it is still important that the public remains aware of what is happening in regards to immigration policy so that they may engage in discourse and advocacy to improve the state of the nation.