Saying the Trump Administration’s approach to immigration has been marked by cruelty and bigotry, Rep. Judy Chu this week lashed out again at the president, this time over a new federal rule that imposes a financial-resources test on legal immigrants hoping to receive green cards to remain in the U.S.
Chu, the Democrat whose 27th Congressional District includes South Pasadena, followed her June 12 introduction of the “No Federal Funds For Public Charge Act” bill with a blistering attack on Trump’s latest immigration-related move.
On Monday, the president made final a 2018 proposal by the Department of Homeland Security that prevents legal immigrants who are seeking permanent residency from obtaining their green cards unless they can prove they would not need federal assistance in areas such as food stamps and subsidized housing.
The path to permanent residency will also become harder for immigrants already in the country legally, as they could face deportation for having availed themselves of those benefits, as well as other programs such as Medicaid.
Under the harsher rule on which Trump signed off, immigrants, beginning in October, would have to prove they can fully support themselves with no government assistance — the so-called “Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds” rule.
Trump has long argued that immigrants should be admitted to the U.S. based solely on “merit,” and has opposed immigration from poor and underdeveloped countries.
Chu, a frequent critic of Trump, particularly in the area of immigration, said the new rule reverses years of federal policy aimed at aiding immigrants in the country legally.
“From separating families to using ICE raids to intentionally intimidate and frighten immigrants here or looking to come here, the Trump Administration’s approach to immigration has been cruelty,’’ Chu said.
“The effect is never to actually improve our immigration system, only to increase xenophobia and bigotry. That is the case with this new ‘public charge’ rule.’’
The change, Chu said, could frighten immigrants already receiving benefits into disenrolling for fear of losing their chance to get a green card — endangering health and increasing poverty “for millions of children and families.’’
It could also make it more difficult for families to be reunited with loved ones in the U.S., she said.
“This rule will not fix a single problem that Donald Trump has claimed to be concerned with,’’ Chu said. “What it will do, though, is frighten immigrants already here and contributing from accessing the benefits they are legally entitled to — benefits that are proven successful at helping millions stay out of poverty and put their children on a path to a better future. That is a path that Trump is now cutting off for immigrants.’’
She added: “Immigrants fearing that accessing the benefits they have earned and paid for will cost them a green card or prevent their loved ones from being able to join them will mean more parents refusing the SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) benefits they need to help feed their children, or refusing to access medical care. The result is more hunger and more sickness, all so Trump can add a new bigoted line to his campaign speeches.’’
Chu’s bill, HR3222, stipulates that “No federal funds (including fees) made available for any fiscal year may be used to implement, administer, enforce, or carry out the proposed rule of the Department of Homeland Security entitled “Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds.”
The House Judiciary Committee has referred Chu’s bill to the Subcommittee on Immigration and Citizenship.
Chu serves on the powerful Ways and Means Committee, with jurisdiction over taxes and revenues, Social Security and Medicare. She also is a member of the subcommittees on Health and Human Resources, Worker and Family Support and Oversight.
Last month, Chu reintroduced her Reuniting Families Act, which seeks to ease the road to the U.S. for family members of immigrants currently in the country legally. In particular, Chu’s office said, that bill’s aim is to reduce visa backlogs to provide “humane and timely” reunifications, provide equality for LGBTQ families and increase the number of diversity visas.
“Immigrants make America strong,’’ Chu said this week. “They work, pay taxes, shop in our communities and contribute to our economic growth. We are better off because of the entrepreneurism, hard work and diversity that immigrants bring to our economy.
“Look no further than California, which is majority-minority and thriving. (Trump’s public-charge) … rule is bad for the economy and bad for our communities. It is motivated completely by racial animus and has no place in our politics.
“I am urging leaders in the House and Senate to quickly vote on my bill, HR 3222, to block any federal money from being used to implement this hateful and harmful rule.”
The House is Democrat-controlled, but the Senate is controlled by the Republican Party.