As the Trump administration considers regulations that would make it more difficult for a legal immigrant to stay in the country if they have enrolled in Medicaid or accepted food stamps, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda Solis Thursday denounced the proposal as anti-American and needlessly cruel.
"America is about giving everyone a chance to lift themselves up, take care of their families, and chase their dreams -- and our government should never be in the business of punishing people who may need a little help making sure their kids are safe, fed and have a roof over their heads," Garcetti said. "Creating fear and targeting legal immigrants who follow the rules does nothing to increase our security or strengthen our economy -- it is nothing less than a public disgrace."
Under the proposed policy, which has just entered a 60-day public comment period, the stricter "public charge" rules would have documented immigrants applying for legal permanent residence or a visa be potentially rejected if they use public benefits.
The Department of Homeland Security currently applies the public charge rule to those obtaining more than 50 percent of income from assistance programs, but would expand the definition to apply to any government assistance, even if it is less than 50 percent.
Both Garcetti and Solis said the new rules would discourage immigrants from receiving assistance to which they have a legal right, which could drive some of them into homelessness or poor health and harm the economy.
"Today, because of the expansive definition that this president would like to put forward, it puts critical vulnerabilities and attacks the most helpless -- our children," Solis said during a news conference with Garcetti in downtown's Grand Park. "We're talking about families who receive food stamps, that are struggling, that are working poor. We're talking abut elders, as well as children, that should be receiving their immunizations, their shots, because we're going into flu season right now. We're also talking about people that are on the verge of becoming homeless that won't now reply for vouchers."
To coincide with the start of the public comment period, Garcetti's office launched a website, lamayor.org/StrongFamiliesLA, to raise awareness on the issue and encourage residents to share their thoughts with the Department of Homeland Security.