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Health leaders, lawmakers speak out against proposed “public charge” expansion

Health leaders, lawmakers speak out against proposed “public charge” expansion

Health leaders, advocates and Democratic lawmakers spoke out Monday against a proposal from President Donald Trump’s administration that would make it harder for legal immigrants to get green cards if they received certain forms of public assistance, including Medicaid, housing vouchers and food stamps.

“These proposed rules are an ill-advised, mean-spirited attempt to prevent people from having access to applying for legal citizenship,” Cook County Health and Hospitals System CEO Dr. Jay Shannon told Health News Illinois Monday. “We are really concerned that it will inhibit people from reaching out to get the healthcare they need.”

Shannon was joined at a press conference by several members of the state’s congressional delegation, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, the Shriver Center and others.

In September, the Department of Homeland Security released a proposed rule expanding the number of factors federal immigration officials can weigh when determining whether a green card applicant is a “public charge,” or someone who relies primarily on government assistance.

In a statement after the rule was announced, Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said the proposal would promote self-sufficiency and “protect finite resources by ensuring that they are not likely to become burdens on American taxpayers.”

“Those seeking to immigrate to the United States must show they can support themselves financially,” she said.

Shannon said the rule, from a healthcare and a financial standpoint, is shortsighted.

“What they are doing is puling out the safety net,” he said. “Usually when you do that, your problems don’t disappear overnight…they sit and the problems fester until they become more complex, more expensive and more devastating.”

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