faith in action

Church and Society on Homeland Security's proposed public charge rule

Church and Society submits public comment on the proposed Homeland Security 'public charge' rule and its impact on immigrants.

Church and Society has joined nearly 200,000 other individuals and organizations in submitting public comment on the Department of Homeland Security’s proposed rule, “Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds.”

The proposed rule would change the definition of who is considered a “public charge,” a term in U.S. immigration policy that refers to a person who will be primarily dependent on the government for subsistence and thus may be denied admission to the U.S. or lawful permanent resident status.

The proposed rule would penalize immigrants for using WIC (Women, Infants, and Children), food stamps and other necessary public benefits and erect insurmountable barriers to access. The proposal would also make using Medicaid and other programs for which immigrants are lawfully eligible grounds for denying legal status to reside in the U.S. It would thus force families to choose between the food, housing and healthcare they need and the people they love. The proposed rule would increase the number of people who are food insecure and without access to necessary preventive health care.

Many immigrant families are mixed-status, and thus this rule would affect U.S. citizens, including kids and pregnant women who use these programs to fulfill basic needs.

The proposed change to public charge is another way of hurting immigrant families, the same as separation at the border and family detention.

Speaking against this proposed rule, Church and Society stated, “as is the case with all policies that injure one part of our society, this proposed rule on public charge would not only needlessly harm individuals’ and families’ health and well-being, but would also harm the greater public health, the U.S. economy, and the public budget. We all stand to lose if this proposed rule is enacted.”

Church and Society went on to quote The United Methodist Church’s Social Principles, which state that “We recognize, embrace, and affirm all persons, regardless of country of origin, as members of the family of God. We affirm the right of all persons to equal opportunities for employment, access to housing, health care, education, and freedom from social discrimination. We urge the Church and society to recognize the gifts, contributions, and struggles of those who are immigrants and to advocate for justice for all.”

Church and Society concluded,

The proposed rule on public charge and its effects are a moral outrage. They are an injustice contrary to God’s Word as declared in Holy Scripture and through the person of Jesus Christ … Forcing families to choose between the food, housing, and healthcare they need and the people they love is a false choice, and an evil one.

The United Methodist Church rejects this choice and continues to proclaim our commitment to justice, welcome, hospitality, and love for migrants. “The United Methodist Church affirms the worth, dignity, and inherent value and rights of all persons regardless of their nationality or legal status.” The Church declares that “To refuse to welcome migrants to this country—and to stand by in silence while families are separated, individual freedoms are ignored, and the migrant community in the United States is demonized by members of Congress and the media—is complicity to sin.

The proposed rule “Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds” refuses care for “the least” among us, immigrants and their families at the margins of society, and is sinful. We strongly oppose this proposed rule.”