Bishops in the United States have voiced opposition to a new “public charge” policy that could deny visas and green cards to immigrants who use various public welfare programs such as food stamps, Medicaid, or housing assistance. Source: CNA.
“Ultimately, we believe that this rule is in tension with the dignity of the person and the common good that all of us are called to support,” said Bishop Joe Vasquez and Bishop Frank Dewane in a statement released by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops website on Tuesday.
Bishop Vasquez is the chair of the USCCB Committee on Migration, and Bishop Dewane leads the USCCB Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development.
The rule is set to go into effect on October 15 and will not penalise immigrants applying for green cards or visas public benefit previously used. The penalties will only be applied to people who used public assistance after that date.
Ken Cuccinelli, the acting director of US Citizenship and Immigration Services, said on Monday that anyone who applying for either legal status or a green card must show that they will not be a “public charge”.
“Our rule generally prevents aliens who are likely to become a public charge from coming to the United States or remaining here in getting a green card,” Mr Cuccinelli said.
“‘Public charge’ is now defined in a way that ensures the law is meaningfully enforced. Those who are subject to it are self-sufficient under the rule of public charge is now defined as an individual who receives one or more designated public benefits for more than 12 months.
The bishops said that the new rule would mean families in difficulty could not get the help they need.
“This rule will undermine family unity and lead many lawful immigrants to forgo vital assistance, including enrolment in nutrition, housing, and medical programs,” said the bishops.