ECAASU Opposes Public Charge Rule Change

Official Statement
December 7th, 2018

Press Contact: 
Miru Osuga, 

ECAASU Opposes Public Charge Rule Change

WASHINGTON, DC-The East Coast Asian American Student Union (ECAASU) is in deep opposition to the rule change on the inadmissibility of immigrants on public charge grounds.

Currently, according to the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), the government can prevent immigrants from adjusting their status from a visa to a legal permanent resident (green card) if they are considered a “public charge,” or someone deemed likely to be primarily dependent on the government. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS)’s new proposed rule would expand this classification, expanding it to anyone who uses public services like SNAP (formerly ‘food stamps’), Medicaid, Medicare Part D benefits, CHIP, or Housing assistance for low-income seniors.

This rule change specifically targets immigrant families, including many Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI)  families. It in essence would deny immigrants permanent residency if they accepted government assistance, is un-American and inhumane. No one in our community should have to make the choice between healthcare or food and becoming a permanent resident. Among immigrants granted access to SNAP benefits include:

  • “Qualified Alien Children under 18”

  • “Refugees admitted under section 207 of INA”

  • “Amerasian immigrants under 584 of the Foreign Operations, Export Financing and Related Programs Appropriation Act”

  • “Iraqi and Afghan special immigrants under Section 101(a)(27) of the INA”

  • “Member of Hmong or Highland Laotian tribes that helped the U.S. military during the Vietnam era, and who are legally living in the U.S., and their spouses or surviving spouses and unmarried dependent children.”

ECAASU has submitted the following comment to the DHS:

“In addition to the history of abuse of indigenous and enslaved Black folks in our country, our American story relies heavily on the work of poor immigrants. The narrative of the American dream has always attracted immigrants looking for a better life to our shores, and many of us within the Asian American and Pacific Islander community are the children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren of those who held these hopes and dreams. Had a policy like this, which denies immigrants the helping hand of a benevolent America, been enacted long ago, many of our realities would not have been possible.

“Citizenship should not be used as a way to criminalize poverty. So many Americans today use these programs; asking for help should not be a metric in defining citizenship and is a cruel, unforgiving way of defining belonging. The irony is not lost on us that the majority of folks who use government services are low-income White folks and that this targeting of low-income immigrants is a direct result of xenophobia and racism, across communities of color. This is not an America we can accept.”

Individuals and organizations can submit their own comments until December 10. Be sure to submit yours here.

Run solely by volunteers, The East Coast Asian American Student Union (ECAASU) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit whose mission is to inspire, educate, and empower those interested in Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) issues.

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View the statement as a pdf here.