Today the U.S. Department of Homeland Security published its rule on public charge, which will threaten the health and well-being of thousands of families in Los Angeles County. The rule targets immigrants receiving public benefits, impeding them from permanent residency and ultimately U.S. citizenship.
The rule will block the path to citizenship for low-income immigrants who have received certain assistance within any 3-year period. These changes will be implemented on Oct. 15, 2019, affecting access to food assistance programs, affordable housing and Medi-Cal for thousands of families.
As educators, we have the responsibility to help form the next generation. We know the journey to self-sufficiency can look very different in low-income immigrant families. At the Los Angeles County Office of Education, one of our priorities is to improve student outcomes by promoting educational equity. This involves removing barriers to learning, including addressing basic needs of students.
The public charge rule harms our most vulnerable by making it more difficult for them to meet their basic needs. Immigrant integration in the United States will become a highly selective process, moving farther away from our country’s values of diversity, family and shared prosperity.
The public charge regulations will make Los Angeles County children hungrier, less healthy and more likely to become homeless. The harm caused by the proposed rule will not be borne by immigrants seeking a change in status alone, but will echo throughout communities and potentially destabilize school districts, harming children and creating an atmosphere of anxiety that makes it more difficult for fearful students to focus on learning. (Federal Comments to Proposed Rule, filed December 10, 2018)
Across Los Angeles County, we are already feeling the impact, as fearful families disenroll in or avoid critical programs. LACOE is committed to protecting the rights of all children, regardless of immigration status, to receive public education, working to ensure they are provided safe school environments and have the needed resources to come to school healthy, happy and ready to learn.
To support districts, LACOE will provide trainings for school staff and administrators, and assist at community clinics to provide parents with important information concerning eligibility for services.