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.

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