Washington, D.C., October 10, 2018—First Focus is outraged by a rule published today in the Federal Register by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security that drastically changes long-standing, bipartisan immigration policy determining eligibility for green cards and admission to the U.S.

The proposed rule targets tax-paying, legal immigrant households by allowing government officials to consider the use of an applicant’s broad range of services such as Medicaid, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and housing assistance when determining eligibility for green cards and/or lawful admission to the U.S.

Approximately 1 in 4 children (18 million) live in a family with at least one immigrant parent and children of immigrants are the fastest-growing group of American children. The majority of children of immigrants live in a household where both parents are working but are employed in lower-paying jobs that don’t provide enough income for them to meet their families’ needs. Holding this legal use of benefits against them threatens their economic security and the health and wellbeing of their children.

The rule would apply directly to children who apply for green cards later in life, as well as immigrant parents who will now be limited from accessing critical benefits, resulting in a loss of income and resources to the household that support children’s healthy development. This includes U.S. citizen children who live in households with immigrant parents. Not only would this proposed rule have repercussions for the economic well-being of immigrant families, but it will also undermine family unity and stability by making it harder for parents to enter, or remain in, the country with their children.

“This proposed rule is cruel and heartless in how it treats children and families who are doing their best to make ends meet,’ said Bruce Lesley, First Focus president.

“There is no way to hurt immigrant parents without also harming children. This rule would force immigrant families to choose between accessing health, food, and housing services they are eligible for and the children and family members they love. The rule is also economically foolish and would cause increases to already high rates of child poverty and homelessness.”

The comment period on this rule starts today and closes on Monday, Dec. 10, 2018. We urge advocates that work on behalf of the immigrant community to submit their comments on why this harmful rule should not be implemented.