Public Charge Proposal Threatens Rust Belt Economies

Only days remain before public comments are due on the proposed federal rule change to public charge and last week, Global Detroit helped lead a twitter town hall meeting to highlight the potentially devastating economic impacts of the proposal. On October 10, the Department of Homeland Secured proposed a sweeping federal rule change to enable the Trump Administration to deny legal entry and change in status requests for an estimated 22 million legal immigrants, nearly 9 million of their U.S.-born citizen children, and hundreds of thousands of new visa applicants. In Michigan, it is estimated that 171,000 legal immigrants and 155,000 U.S. citizen children or other dependents of these legal immigrants will be impacted by the proposal.

By significantly expanding an obscure, rarely-used piece of immigration law known as the “public charge,” the proposed rule would essentially test our federal immigration system and, specifically, penalize immigrant families who have legally access food stamps, housing subsidies, Medicaid, or Medicare Part D.

By creating a culture of fear, as well as forcing immigrant families to have to choose between various health care and emergency needs and their immigration status, the proposed rule will reduce the use of critical health, food, and housing programs that will reduce spending in a variety of industries costing our economy billions of dollars and hundreds of thousands of jobs. States and localities also would be negatively impacted by the reduced participation in these programs that improve the health and well-being of their communities. Our friends at the Fiscal Policy Institute have analyzed the economic harm incurred from reduced use of these federal benefit programs and the resulting spending and job loss for each of the 50 states. In Michigan, according to the research, the proposed rule will reduce economic spending by as much $409 million annually, costing 2,784 lost jobs each year.

If finalized, the rule would impact millions of immigrant families hoping to secure their permanent future in this country. It will devastate a crucial source of population growth for struggling cities across the Midwest. It will devastate labor markets in critical U.S. industries, including construction, hospitality, agriculture, manufacturing—even impacting our nation’s ability to attract top global talent in technology and advanced industries, putting our national economy at risk.

How one lives their life and contributes to their community should define you in America, not how much money you have. Immigration has been proven to be a critical component of economic growth and this proposed expansion of the public charge rule will cost American jobs, reduce tax revenues, and shrink economic output, hurting American workers, families, and communities.

Anyone can submit comments to the proposed rule by the December 10 deadline through the comment form here provided by our friends at the Protecting Immigrant Families campaign. You can cut-and-paste personalized comments detailing how your community will be impacted. The more specific and personal your comments, the more likely they are to be given consideration.

You can learn more about the entire issue from the Protecting Immigrant Families website. Welcoming Economies (WE) Global also has created its own webpage to highlight the economic issues raised by the proposed expansion of public charge.

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