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Contact: Ed Walz
Phone: (202) 657-0685
Email: edw@firstfocus.net
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Immigration Amendments Threaten Children’s Health & Nutrition

Children of Immigrants

Washington – The First Focus Campaign for Children sent a letter today, urging members of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee to oppose amendments that would discourage parents from seeking health care or food for their children. The letter cautioned that such amendments would adversely affect children’s immigration status eligibility based on their receipt of health care through Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), or their receipt of food through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

“Food and health care are children’s most basic needs, and Congress should be making it easier for children, not creating more red tape,” said Campaign for Children President Bruce Lesley.

Several senators have filed amendments to the immigration reform bill (S. 744) that would compromise children’s immigration status eligibility by changing the immigration law’s definition of “public charge.” Specifically:

  • Amendment 10 by Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) would alter the long-standing “public charge” test, which applicants for immigration benefits must pass, by specifying that children and others seeking a path to citizenship would be denied if they had received health care through Medicaid or food through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP);
  • Amendment 25 by Sen. Sessions would make children and other applicants ineligible for registered provisional immigrant (RPI) status if they are “likely” in the future to get health care through the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) or Medicaid, or to get food through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP);
  • Amendment 26 by Sen. Sessions would make children and other applicants ineligible for lawful permanent resident (LPR) status if they are “likely” in the future to get health care through the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), Medicaid, or health care affordability tax credits under the Affordable Care Act;
  • Amendment 27 by Sen. Sessions would make children and other applicants ineligible for LPR status if they are “likely” in the future to get health care through the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), Medicaid, or health care affordability tax credits under the Affordable Care Act, disability assistance through Supplemental Security Income, or to get food through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP);
  • Amendment 28 by Sen. Sessions would make children and other applicants ineligible for LPR status if they are “likely” in the future to get state-sponsored, means-tested benefits of any sort, or a range of federal health benefits, including health care through the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), Medicaid, or health care affordability tax credits under the Affordable Care Act, or to get food through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP);
  • Amendment 5 by Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) would increase the bill’s income requirement for children and other applicants for extension of RPI from an average of 100 percent of the federal poverty level applicable to their family to 125 percent of that level;

“CHIP, SNAP, and Medicaid are lifelines for kids, and a vote for these amendments is a vote to cut those lifelines,” said Lesley.

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The First Focus Campaign for Children is a 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization affiliated with First Focus, a bipartisan children’s advocacy organization. The Campaign for Children advocates directly for legislative change in Congress to ensure children and families are the priority in federal policy and budget decisions. For more information, visitwww.ffcampaignforchildren.org.