Supporting Immigrant Families in the Age of Fear and Loathing

[UPDATE, 10/7/19: Added “Should I Keep My Kids Enrolled in Health and Nutrition Programs?” to the resources below.]
[UPDATE, 9/23/19: Added WIC family resource flyer on public charge in English, Spanish, and Chinese]
[UPDATE, 9/13/19: Added the following to the resources below: Public Charge Rule Analysis & FAQ Sheet, Final Rule on Public Charge, and the Los Angeles County’s Office of Immigrant Affairs website]
[UPDATE, 9/9/19: Added “SNAP Food Assistance: Immigrants & Public Charge” and the updated “Getting the Help You Need” resources below]
[UPDATE, 8/19/19: Added “Public Charge: A Threat to Immigrant Families” to resources below]
[UPDATE, 8/16/19: Added “Let’s Talk About Public Charge” and “Getting the Help You Need” to resources below]

New and proposed changes in immigration policies have made many immigrant and mixed-status families afraid to access community services, including assistance for their family’s health care, nutrition, and housing. A new report from the Urban Institute even finds that many adults in immigrant families are “avoiding routine activities because of immigration concerns.”

Yesterday the Trump administration announced that its proposed “public charge” rule changes would be finalized this week. The rule changes, which are being challenged in court but may go into effect in October, would allow immigration officials to deny green cards to those who receive these public benefits: Medicaid/Medi-Cal (excluding emergency and disability services related to education, children under 21, and pregnant mothers); Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) (or CalFresh in California); federal Section 8 housing assistance; Social Security Income (SSI); and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF).

Although the rule change doesn’t apply to Welcome Baby or any home visiting programs — or WIC or other services for pregnant women and children — the chilling effect is bound to add challenges to our outreach efforts with immigrant families. Current families in home visiting may be confused about the new rule and be reluctant to continue the program. Fearing retribution from immigration officials, some parents may even drop out of programs their families need or forgo prenatal and postpartum care and pediatric visits.

To counter the fear with facts, we’ve collected — and will continue to update — various resources and information that you can share with the families you serve.

ICE Raids and Rights of Immigrant Families
  • We Have Rights Video Series (ACLU)
    Videos that provide real-life action points for individuals if they come in contact with ICE agents at home, in the community, and/or are arrested by ICE agents. Videos are available in multiple languages.
  • Know Your Rights Resources (Immigrant Defense Project)
    Flyers, posters, booklets, infographics, and videos available in up to 16 different languages in response to the ongoing threat of ICE raids and deportation operations.
Immigrant and Mixed-Status Families Accessing Health Care
  • You Have Rights: Protect Your Health Document (English and Spanish Templates)
    Provides an overview for immigrant and mixed-status families of their rights when it comes to going to the doctor and enrolling in health insurance. The English and Spanish templates created by Protecting Immigrant Families can be tailored and branded for your organization.
Public Charge
HUD’s Proposed Rule Change

The most important thing for people to know is that nothing has changed here.

In May, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) published a proposed rule that would prohibit “mixed-status” families from living in public and other subsidized housing. Check out the Keep Families Together website for details on the proposed changes, the latest news, and resources you can reference when discussing this with families expressing concerns.

Previous Posts in the Stronger Families Blog:

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on August 23, 2019 and has been updated to include updated information on the “public charge” rule. The most recent update was made on October 7, 2019.

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