Opinion: Public Charge and the Future of Immigration

December 14, 2018. In this op-ed by Steve Tobocman, executive director of Global Detroit, he argues that the Trump administration’s proposed “public charge” rule will go against the United States’ history of refugee resettlement and the country’s welcoming legacy. This rule would withhold green cards from immigrants who have used specific public benefits or are likely to use them in the future. Tobocman highlights the importance of immigrants to Michigan, who reversed the state’s population decline and how the “public charge” rule will effect the hardworking and legal immigrants who are important for the aging workforce in Michigan.

While all of those issues are critically important—redefining our national character and changing America’s legacy as the world’s most welcoming nation with a history of providing refuge to the persecuted—the future of U.S. immigration policy is very much at stake due to an issue you probably have never heard about: a federal rule proposed by President Trump’s Department of Homeland Security to take an obscure, rarely-used piece of immigration law known as the “public charge” and expand it to monstrous proportions.

According to the Fiscal Policy Institute, this proposed rule will impact as many as 24 million people in the U.S., including more than 8 million U.S.-citizen children born to immigrant parents. The impacts will include close to a million legal residents applying for green cards every year, as well as hundreds of thousands of new visa applicants who, often after waiting more than 10 years for the opportunity to come to America, may now find the doors closed to their chance to live the American Dream.

 

Here is the link to The Detroit News.

As the Public Comment Period Ends, Advocacy Groups Mount One Last Push Against Trump’s ‘Public Charge’ Rule

December 12, 2018. This article discusses the work of advocacy organizations who are opposed to the Trump Administration’s proposed “public charge” rule, which would make it harder for immigrants to obtain a green card or citizenship if they have received or are likely to receive specific public benefits. The article goes on to discuss the efforts of organizations to post comments during the 60-day comment period that ended Monday in order to show their opposition and the harm that this rule could do to immigrants.

At a press conference on Monday, leaders of multiple national advocacy organizations reiterated their opposition to the Trump administration’s proposed “public charge” rule, which would make it harder for immigrants who receive public services to acquire green cards or become citizens. With Monday marking the final day for the public to comment on the proposed regulation changes, leaders from groups like National Immigration Law Center, Planned Parenthood, and the UndocuBlack Network convened to encourage one last push against the rule.

Wan’s organization has joined with immigration-focused advocacy groups to oppose the public charge rule, because, as a health-care organization, Planned Parenthood claims it can’t serve immigrant populations’ health needs if immigrants are too scared to access public services for fear that it could negatively affect their citizenship chances. There’s already evidence that immigrants—even those not affected by the potential changes—have shown a sudden unwillingness to access essential public services like health care or food assistance. As Pacific Standard reported in October:

A report from the Fiscal Policy Institute estimates that 24 million people will feel a “chilling effect,” meaning they will be too frightened to accept benefits—even if they are not directly impacted by the rule. … Immigrants have asked to be removed from the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, which is not included in the rule, citing faulty advice from their attorneys.

Here is the link to Pacific Standard.

New York Needs to Restore Access to Driver’s Licenses for All in 2019

December 10, 2018. In this op-ed by

The legislation would allow the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to issue a Standard License to all New Yorkers, regardless of immigration status. Immigrant New Yorkers, regardless of their immigration status, would then be able to be properly licensed as well as operate a registered, inspected, and insured vehicle — helping make everyone safer.

Besides being the right thing to do, this would lead to an economic boost to New York State. According to the Fiscal Policy Institute, passing this legislation would yield an estimated $57 million in combined annual government revenues, plus $26 million in one-time revenues projected as a result of people getting licenses and purchasing vehicles. It’s no wonder that 12 states throughout the country, and Washington D.C and Puerto Rico, already allow all people of a certain age, regardless of immigration status, to drive. It’s also why our neighbors in New Jersey are moving towards passing a similar measure.

Equal access to driver’s licenses for all will not only boost our economy and protect people like Jorge and his family, but it makes sense for the public safety of all New Yorkers. One of us is the ranking member of the Crime Victims, Crime and Correction committee, and it is imperative that New Yorkers, regardless of immigration status, are able to come forward to report a crime. Undocumented New Yorkers should not fear prosecution for not having proper identification when coming in contact with local law enforcement.

Here is the link to the Gotham Gazette.

On Census Preparations, State Lags While City, Advocacy Organizations & Business Community Move Ahead

December 10, 2018. This article discusses the work of advocates, community-based organizations (CBOs) and city officials on early preparation for the 2020 census given the challenges that will have to be faced including the possibility of a citizenship question. These advocates and CBOs are calling on the federal government for funding to help complete early preparation work that includes educating people on the importance of the census, efforts to reach hard-to-count communities and provide resources for census completion. Advocates argue that federal under-funding and the inclusion of a citizenship question would lead to a large under count which would create a false data set that is used to form policies and create budgets.

“It might seem early, but given the challenges that are facing the decennial census in 2020, it’s not early enough,” said Steven Romalewski, director of the mapping service at the Center for Urban Research, CUNY Graduate Center. Advocates, government officials, and members of the business community all agree with that sentiment, that early preparation is essential if New York is to ensure a full accounting of its population in the 2020 Census, wherein the stakes are immense.

Many view 2020 as a particularly challenging year for the Herculean effort of carrying out the census. Besides the usual logistical challenges of reaching hard-to-count communities, 2020 is set to see lower-than-expected funding from the federal government, a shift towards digital methodology, and the inclusion of a citizenship question, though it is the subject of ongoing litigation spearheaded by New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood. All that comes amid a heightened atmosphere of anxiety among minority and immigrant communities who fear the repercussions of being counted by a federal administration overtly hostile to their interests while already being most likely to be undercounted.

To make up for the expected shortfall in enumerators, particularly in undocumented communities, the New York Counts coalition is pushing the state government to ensure adequate funding for counting efforts. A study from the Fiscal Policy Institute, commissioned by the coalition, estimated that need at about $40 million, roughly $2 for each of New York’s 19 million residents. But so far, the state has made no commitment while the city’s $4.3 million is something, but far from adequate. (The city is expected to add more funding in the next fiscal year which begins July 1, 2019.)

Here is the link to the Gotham Gazette.

 

 

As The Public Comment Period Ends, Advocacy Groups Mount One Last Push Against Trump’s Public Charge Rule

December 10, 2018. On Monday, multiple national advocacy organizations reiterated their opposition to the Trump administrations’s proposed “public charge” rule, which would make it harder for immigrants who receive public services to acquire green cards or become citizens. With Monday marking the final day for the public to comment on the proposed regulation changes, leaders from groups like National Immigration Law Center, Planned Parenthood, and the UndocuBlack Network convened to encourage one last push against the rule.

A report from the Fiscal Policy Institute estimates that 24 million people will feel a “chilling effect,” meaning they will be too frightened to accept benefits—even if they are not directly impacted by the rule. … Immigrants have asked to be removed from the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, which is not included in the rule, citing faulty advice from their attorneys.

Here is the article in the Pacific Standard.

 

Immigration Proposal Goes Against Spirit of Thanksgiving

December 1, 2018. In this op-ed, the author,, argues that the Trump Administration’s proposed “public charge” rule, which would require immigrants applying for legal permanent residence to demonstrate that they have not received, and will not receive specific public benefits including SNAP and Medicaid. He argues that this rule goes against the tradition of Thanksgiving in America, which is a holiday known for helping European immigrants who were facing starvation during the winter months. The author goes on to argue that this rule goes against a longstanding tradition in the United States as a welcoming country who values immigrants.

The new rule would require immigrants applying for legal permanent residence (a “green card”) to demonstrate that they have not, do not, and will not likely receive any of a list of publicly funded benefits, including MassHealth (Medicaid) and SNAP (“food stamps”). Analysis by the Fiscal Policy Institute and a recent report by Nancy Wagman at the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center have found that as many as 500,000 people in Massachusetts could withdraw from needed benefits out of fear or confusion about this rule, which has not yet gone into effect. Of these, 160,000 are children, most of whom are U.S. citizens and not even directly subject to this proposed rule.

Thanksgiving is famously a time when European immigrants facing winter starvation were helped out with corn and other supplies from those who lived here already. “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free” says the inscription on the Statue of Liberty. But the proposed new rule would upend the way our country has historically viewed immigration, replacing a “land of opportunity” with a practice of expelling people for receiving assistance. These benefits help immigrants integrate into American life and lead healthier lives. There are already reports of people withdrawing from benefits that they need to avoid the possibility that accepting them could lead to deportation.

Here is the link to Wicked Local Truro.

A Closer Look at the Tax Incentives in the Amazon Deal

November 29, 2018. This article discusses further Amazon’s decision to put a corporate campus in Long Island City/Queens after a public year-long search and the subsequent skepticism and outrage that followed the decision. Many activists and elected officials oppose the process by which Amazon got its $3 billion deal, feeling that despite the strong overall city economy with low unemployment, it will undoubtedly impact affordable housing, public housing, and the current transportation crisis. The Fiscal Policy Institute and other advocates weighed in whether it makes sense to offer Amazon such hefty incentives in light of major issues like housing and transportation.

That in turn raises the issue of where New York should actually invest, in businesses or in infrastructure, according to Jonas Shaende, the chief economist at the Fiscal Policy Institute. “Should we just give [companies] tax subsidies outright or should we invest in what makes New York so attractive and so vibrant and so great? In the things that that are the real factors in in their decision making, things like the transportation system, the affordable housing the access to to labor, to education facilities those kinds of things.”

Shaende wasn’t alone in that line of thinking, as redirecting state subsidies from corporations towards local infrastructure was a centerpiece of the Marc Molinaro and Stephanie Miner campaigns for governor.

Here is a link to the Gotham Gazette.

As Chinatown Residents Panic Over Latest Trump Immigration Crackdown, Forum Offers Advice

November 23, 2018. This article discusses the efforts of Illinois State Representative Theresa Mah to provide accurate information to the Chinese community who live in Chinatown about the Trump administration’s proposed “public charge” rule. The article highlights the forum that was held to provide information on “public charge” so that community members do not make critical decisions about their healthcare and public assistance based on fear and misinformation.

The latest Trump administration immigration crackdown could hit Chicago’s Chinese community hard — and lawmakers are working to ensure people know their rights before they make decisions based on fear or misinformation.

Critics of the policy fear that immigrants could be forced to choose between staying or getting into the U.S. and going without the social service help they need. The Fiscal Policy Institute estimates that 24 million people, including some legal immigrants who would not actually be targeted by the change, could feel the effect of the policy.

At the end, people can write comments in the language of their choice, and volunteers will transcribe them into English and submit on their behalf.

Here is the link to Block Club Chicago.

Does Amazon Cuomo’s ‘$9 To $1’ Sales Pitch Make Sense?

November 20, 2018. This article discusses the tax breaks that Governor Cuomo has agreed to give Amazon for moving one of their headquarters to Long Island City. The article goes on to discuss the Governor’s argument for agreeing to provide Amazon with an estimated $3 billion in subsidies that includes city and state tax breaks, infrastructure slush funds, and helipads, which he argues is benefiting New York State because if he didn’t provide these tax breaks the state would miss out on the revenue that Amazon will bring. The author analyzes Cuomo’s argument for the tax breaks and highlights that Amazon would not come to New York without them, the Governor’s argument could apply to any taxpayer, New York could spend its money differently and still make a large profit, there are costs to hosting Amazon and calculating “taxes paid” as a return on “taxes not paid” is not a normal technique for bookkeeping.

This is a big money-maker for us — costs us nothing, nada, niente. We make money doing this,” Cuomo said on Tuesday, adding, “The revenue-to-incentive ratio is 9-to-1. That is the highest rate of return for an economic incentive program that the state has ever offered.” Two days later, he reiterated this argument: “You give us $1 billion, we’ll give you 100 back. I would do that all day long.” On Monday morning, the governor published an “op-ed” on his website asserting, “New York doesn’t give Amazon $100 million. Amazon gives New York $900 million.”

“Our offer essentially was, instead of paying us a billion, you pay us $900 million, hence, the 100 million per year subsidy,” Cuomo told Brian Lehrer on Monday, shortly after his press shop distributed the op-ed. “Now, we’re not giving Amazon 100 million a year, they’re giving us 900. ‘Well they could have given you a billion.’ Yeah, only if they came here, you know? Otherwise we would be out $900 million.”

Calculating “taxes paid” as a return on “taxes not paid” is just a seriously weird way of doing bookkeeping. “It’s not the way taxes work,” says Fiscal Policy Institute deputy director David Kallick, noting that the whole point of taxes is to pay for the additional public services that a resident or employer needs. “If Cuomo wants to make a state investment in Amazon, he should also get an ownership share. That’s not a crazy idea, actually.”

Here is the link to the Gothamist.

Trump Administration Policy Change Could Cost New York as Many Jobs as Amazon Would Bring, Councilman Says

November 20, 2018. This article discusses the Trump administration’s proposed “public charge” rule, which would make it harder for immigrants to obtain legal permanent residency if they currently use or have used specific public benefits. The author makes a comparison between Amazon and the “Public Charge” rule, which is that Amazon plans to bring 25,000 jobs to New York, while according to an FPI analysis, the “public charge” rule would cost New York a 25,000 job loss. The author also highlights the possible “chilling effects” of the rule, which would discourage immigrants who are not affected from disenrolling or not enrolling for benefits in a time of need. The author also notes that the rule could cost the New York economy $2.2 billion in direct federal funding to the state, and a $3.6 billion loss in rippled effects to grocery stores, doctors’ offices and hospitals.

Amazon is set to bring 25,000 jobs to New York state but a proposal from President Trump to change welfare and immigration policies could take as many away.

Councilman Stephen Levin offered up the eye-popping figure at a City Council hearing on the President’s “public charge” proposal, which could force thousands of legal immigrants here to choose between public benefits like SNAP food stamps and a path to legal permanent residency. The proposal would count the acceptance of food benefits, Medicaid and other social services programs against an immigrant’s application for a green card.

“Every SNAP dollar spent by recipient generates $1.79 in economic activity. Every $1 billion in Snap benefits creates 9,000 full-time jobs. The economic impact of this proposed rule on New York City would be devastating. Potentially up to 25,000 full time jobs — when we talk about the Amazon issue, that’s how many jobs could be lost by this proposed rule alone,” Levin said.

Levin was citing a report by the Fiscal Policy Institute, which estimated that 25,000 jobs would be lost statewide if 25% of the people likely to be be worried about the rule charge — families where at least one person is a non-citizen immigrant and one person has received the public benefits at stake — unenroll from food stamps or Medicaid.

In addition to the 25,000 lost jobs, that scenario would also lead to a loss of $2.2 billion in direct federal funding to the state, and a $3.6 billion loss in rippled effects to grocery stores, doctors’ offices and hospitals, according to the Fiscal Policy Institute.

Here is the link to the New York Daily News.

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