In a letter to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the CBC wrote that a proposal to restrict permanent residency or “green cards” for immigrants who are likely to use public assistance programs, such as Medicaid, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and Medicare Part D, is “racially discriminatory and a reverse of what Congress intended.”
The CBC noted that the justification for the proposal is “inaccurate and incomplete.”
The Dec. 10 letter was signed by CBC Chairman Cedric L. Richmond, a Democrat from Louisiana, and Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke, a Democrat from New York, who also serves as the CBC Immigration Task Force chair. Clarke, who represents the 9th Congressional District in Brooklyn, is the daughter of Jamaican immigrants.
The CBC’s letter is a follow-up to one dispatched to U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen in September.
“We are writing as members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) to express our strong opposition to your agency’s proposed rule concerning public charge determinations,” it noted. “The proposed rule would cause major harm to immigrants, their families, state and local governments, health care providers and numerous other parties throughout the nation.
“Black immigrants, who comprise only 8.7 percent of all non-citizens, but are more likely to be impacted by the proposed rule, would be disproportionately injured. We, therefore, urge you to immediately withdraw this proposed rule in its entirety.”
In a recent town hall meeting in Brooklyn, Clarke heightened her warning to Caribbean and other immigrants about the Trump administration’s proposed Public Charge rule, saying that it will “deeply affect a large portion of residents” in her district, who are predominantly Caribbean nationals.
"Now that this rule change seems imminent, it’s important that we know our rights, understand how it will affect our community, and share strategies to ensure that our families, congregations and communities are safe,” said Clarke.
She said Public Charge rule has been a statutory ground of inadmissibility for nearly 135 years; and that, generally, if deemed a public charge, one will not be allowed to become a permanent resident in the U.S. But Clarke said the proposed rule by the Trump administration would expand the list of government programs that could be used to block Caribbean and other immigrants from obtaining green cards.
The congresswoman said the rule would require the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to deny immigration benefits to Caribbean nationals who have used or are likely to use the programs in an amount equal to about $150/month in certain types of benefits.
"Simply put, this proposed rule is yet another attack on poor communities of color,” declared Clarke at the meeting that was attended by representatives of several immigration advocacy groups, including the New York Immigration Coalition.
Clarke said for several years safety net programs have helped Caribbean and other immigrants across America, particularly the large immigrant population in her district, “who came to the United States with limited resources to pursue the American Dream.
"It is our duty to ensure that this dream is attainable for all, regardless of race, nation of origin, or socioeconomic status.”