Baltimore City’s solicitor sued the Trump administration on November 28, challenging a policy used by immigration officials outside the U.S. to determine whether would-be immigrants are likely to become a “public charge” through their use of health care and child care programs, among others.  The issue is similar to the new proposed rule that would affect documented immigrants already in the country.  Solicitor Andre M. Davis, who filed the case in U.S. District Court in collaboration with the nonprofit Democracy Forward, said the policy change is part of an ongoing attempt by the Trump administration to make life “miserable” for immigrants and potential immigrants.  Read the full article about the lawsuit here. And see the DTMG Action Item regarding the proposed rule that threatens immigrant health, nutrition and housing in this country.  (Comments are due by December 10.)

On November 13 Maryland Attorney General Brian E. Frosh filed a motion challenging the appointment of Matthew G. Whitaker as Acting Attorney General. Attorney General Frosh argues that President Trump’s appointment of Whitaker is illegal and unconstitutional, and Deputy U.S. Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein must be named Acting Attorney General in his stead.  See the Press Release here.

Now Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) and ten former ethics officials from several presidential administrations and government agencies have filed an amicus brief in support of the State’s motion.  Appointing Whitaker, a non-Senate confirmed employee, far outside the statutory line of succession, is contrary to the AG Succession Act, as well as the Constitution.  Read more about the amicus brief here.

Background: The US has a long-standing rule that persons who are deemed likely to become a “public charge” (permanently and primarily dependent on government support to survive) are not admissible or eligible to become  Legal Permanent Residents (LPR or “green card”).  Currently immigration officials consider whether an individual receives income from government cash assistance programs such as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI), or if the individual receives or is likely to receive long-term care benefits under Medicaid.

What’s Changed? Under the proposed rule, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) wants to radically expand the list of programs considered when making a determination regarding public charge; it would include Medicaid, Medicare Part D (low income subsidy), SNAP (food stamps), housing assistance and prescription drug subsidies. Those who are working but earn less than 125% of the Federal Poverty Guideline ($31,375 for a family of four) will also be at greater risk of being rejected.  Note that many who work full time do not meet this income criterion!  

What Are Likely Results? The proposed rules have already created a climate of fear motivating immigrants to disenroll from needed nutrition and health programs. If finalized, millions of documented (legal) immigrants would no longer qualify for green cards unless they forego assistance programs for which they qualify.  Other potential consequences  are described below in the bulleted list.

WHAT CAN YOU DO AS A CONCERNED CITIZEN?  TAKE ACTION NOW! SUBMIT A PUBLIC COMMENT BY DEC. 10  

What Should I Say?   Your comments should be your own or they will not be considered.  However, you can draw from these ideas (but put them in your own words:

  • Millions of immigrant families are mixed-status, including both citizens and non-citizens. If one or more members of such families choose not to use programs they need and for which they are eligible out of fear of putting permanent residence applications at risk, the whole family may suffer from inadequate food, health services or shelter. Out of fear and confusion, many immigrants are already disenrolling from these programs.
  • Denying access to health care for part of our population puts the rest of the population at risk for infectious disease.  
  • Those who suffer serious illness due to inadequate or foregone preventive care may later burden our health care system. Their future earning potential may also be reduced, which has ramifications for the economy. 
  • A quarter of children in the U.S. have at least one immigrant parent and 90% of these children were born here. This new rule would affect millions of children, including those that are U.S. citizens.  Children who suffer poor nutrition and health care in their early years may suffer reduced productivity for the rest of their lives.
  • Use of health, nutrition and housing programs does not predict future dependence on such programs. Those who struggle economically in their early years in the US may temporarily seek such assistance to keep their families well and housed until they can move to better-paying jobs and “outgrow” such public assistance.  The new rule would consider this temporary use a negative factor if it continued beyond just nine months. It would thus be yet another effort to make it harder for working-class families to get ahead.
  • Wealthier immigrants will more easily pass through the LPR process, while poorer immigrants will be punished.  This proposed new rule would create a system that gives legal residence to the highest bidders.
  • It is immoral and cruel to force families to choose between being together and meeting basic needs. Individuals planning to apply for LPR may be afraid to remain in a household where other members are using health, nutrition, or housing benefits.
  • Indirect effects of the proposed expanded definition of public charge include decreased employment and income for health care providers, decreased grocery sales, slowed economic growth  and increased demands on safety-net charities. Indirect effects of causing people to disenroll from these needed programs will adversely affect our whole population and economy. Such effects include decreases in retail grocery sales, decreased employment in the health care system, reduced spending in the economy in general (as families divert more of their earned income to food, housing and health), slower economic growth, and increased demand on safety-net charities.   
  • The proposed rule change would shift our national immigration system away from family-based immigration to one that focuses on well-off, highly-skilled persons, ignoring our long history of immigrants arriving and building a better life for their children and grandchildren. It is short-sighted because it takes a narrow view of who contributes to our economy, culture and society. Fairness and compassion should not be dependent on a person’s race, ethnicity or birthplace.

You can read the full Proposed Rule Here.   

Last spring our friends at the MoCo Deportation Defense Coalition were successful in getting the county to appropriate $373, 957 for the legal defense of low-income county residents who are in deportation proceedings.  Immigrants in this situation do not have a right to an attorney, and studies have shown that those who do have legal counsel are much more likely to be successful in court proceedings.  Three organizations, AYUDA, KIND and HIAS were designated as recipients of these funds.  This was definitely a victory for immigrants’ rights . . . . BUT

The Council amended the original request in such a way that few if any immigrants who are in detention will be helped.  The original proposal excluded persons convicted of serious crimes and gang involvement.  Unfortunately, the Council drastically extended this list of criteria for exclusion to include minor offenses and misdemeanors.  So the MoCo Deportation Defense Coalition will be advocating to the new Council and Executive in the new year.  Expect to see some related “action items” in the coming months.

For more information read the Coalition’s Letter to Supporters and the County Resolution.

Montgomery County Executive-Elect Marc Elrich is hosting five public listening session forums for Montgomery County residents to share their thoughts and priorities about the most critical issues facing their county, communities, neighborhoods, and families.  (more…)

These four important issues affect Health Care coverage for millions of Americans.  Be informed and take action!

  • Don’t tolerate high Prescription Drug prices. The FDA’s bid to lower some drug costs will help.  But it won’t solve the problem.  Stories of families suffering from high drug costs have gone viral.  
  • Introducing Medicaid Supports Maryland. Medicaid is an essential public program that provides health coverage for one out of four children, two out of five people living with disabilities and three of five people in nursing homes in Maryland.  Visit Medicaid Supports Maryland to learn more. Follow them on Facebook and Twitter, and sign up here to pledge your support for Medicaid in Maryland!
  • Veterans are suffering. A new law allowing veterans to use public money to seek private health care has broad bipartisan support.  But lawmakers and the White House are divided over how to pay for it, creating a stalemate that is now holding up funding for the entire federal government.  Call your Congressional representatives and tell them you support the vets.
  • Medicaid and the Subsidy Cliff.  There’s a significant population of Medicaid recipients who would lose their health-care coverage if states began requiring them to work – regardless of whether they got a job.  But now, if able-bodied adults in those states are required to work to stay on Medicaid they’ll fall into that gap and have no affordable coverage option at all.  Call your Congressional representatives to oppose such cuts. 

Please Help Hand Out ACA Flyers on Dec. 8

With the Trump Administration continuing to do everything it can to destroy health insurance in America, we have to hold the line and help spread the word on how to sign up for coverage under the ACA. This year we will be handing out flyers at several shopping centers on Gaithersburg on Saturday, December 8. 

You can print out your own copy of the flyer in English or  Spanish here.

Gaithersburg Action December 8

WHERE: 
Meet at Panera Bread, Gaithersburg Square
598 N Frederick Ave, Gaithersburg, MD 20877
Go in small groups to close-by shopping centers. 
WHEN: 
Saturday Dec 8  (2 shifts: 11-1 and 1-3)
Rain Date Sunday Dec 9  (2 shifts: 11-1 and 1-3)

Sign up on the form below.
Caveat: According to County rules, we must remain outside the buildings.

For questions or more information, contact Kathy.

  

We can help elect Democrat Mike Espy of Mississippi to the United States Senate in the November 27 run-off election.  The special election is not likely to get a large turnout but it presents a terrific opportunity to turn out Democratic voters!

Join Democrats and progressive activists across the country making calls for Mike.  You can call from home each night from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm (Eastern Time).  It’s easy. Everything you need to know to make calls for Mike Espy for U.S. Senate is HERE. Making your calls through the Maryland Blue Wave Coalition helps us quantify the impact our volunteers have on the races we support.

The Blue Wave is growing bigger each day.  Let’s add to the number in the Senate by helping Mike Espy of Mississippi. 


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