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Independent Living News & Policy from the National Council on Independent Living

Public Charge Comments Template

November 27, 2018

I am writing to urge the Department of Homeland Security to immediately withdraw the proposed rule, identified by DHS Docket Number USCIS-2010-0012, published in the Federal Register on October 10, 2018 that changes the criteria for considering a person a “public charge.” I strongly oppose the proposed policy because it would be devastating to immigrant families entering the US or trying to become legal permanent residents, and it would disproportionately impact people with disabilities.

Denying a person entry or residency in the US because they rely on assistance would make coming to the US much more difficult – if not impossible – for immigrants with disabilities themselves or those who have family members with disabilities. The benefits added in this proposal in particular (specifically the addition of Medicaid, SNAP, Medicare Part D, and Section 8 housing vouchers) are widely used by children and adults with disabilities and are critical to helping families access the services they need. Medicaid especially is a crucial program for people with disabilities, and forcing immigrant families to go without Medicaid would mean forgoing the one and only source of funding for community services and supports. As a result, this rule would force immigrant families with disabilities to choose between remaining in / returning to another country where they may face poor services, personal harm and unhealthy living situations, or trying to survive in the US where they would receive none of the supports they need to assist them in accessing community living opportunities.

Additionally, the consideration of medical conditions “likely to require extensive medical treatment or institutionalization” as a factor for entering or remaining in the US is blatantly discriminatory against people with disabilities, and it plays into harmful stereotypes about what people with disabilities contribute (or do not contribute) to society. Whether someone can enter or stay in the US should not be determined by a disability. This proposed policy is an attack on disabled immigrants that favors the “healthy” and wealthy, and the potential to exclude people seeking entry or change of status on the basis of disability is discriminatory and unacceptable.

This proposed policy puts the health and lives of countless immigrant families at risk, and if finalized, irreparable harm will be caused. Immigrants, including disabled immigrants, strengthen our communities and our country. I oppose this policy and ask that the Department immediately withdraw it.