The Trump administration’s pressure on immigrant communities continues to build to the point of a proposal unveiled earlier this year to evict any and all households led by undocumented immigrants from federally subsidized housing. At present, such households are allowed to form if at least one member is eligible for assistance, which in these cases would normally mean a child or young person born in the U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson sees no problem with the fact that his department’s new plan would evict some 32,000 households and 55,000 children, leaving them potentially homeless since it’s not as though the government will be providing any sort of continued assistance.
He told the House Financial Services Committee this week, comparing the strategy to in-flight advice for airline passengers to take care of themselves first in an emergency:
‘It’s not that we’re cruel, mean-hearted. It’s that we are logical. This is common sense. You take care of your own first… It seems only logical that tax-paying American citizens should be taken care of first.’
To be clear — the new strategy doesn’t even match up to Carson’s attempt at a defense, considering the fact that assistance-eligible Americans will be turned out to the street should it take effect. The government plans to give targets an 18-month window to find additional accommodations, but that’s it.
Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) insisted to Carson:
‘The ‘D’ in HUD does not stand for ‘deportation.’ We cannot create affordable housing for Americans by throwing other Americans out in the street with no place to go.’
The committee’s Rep. Nydia Velazquez (D-N.Y.) noted that Carson’s argument further falls apart because of the budget cuts that the Trump team is seeking to crucial housing programs. As she put it:
‘Do you understand why this sounds like you’re talking from both sides of your mouth? This budget is shameful. It’s immoral. It fails American citizens just for the sake of scoring political points.’
The administration is going after immigrants for the claimed purpose of protecting American citizens when with the other hand, they’re tearing down protections for American citizens. They could seek to expand resources to provide for those in need of federal housing assistance, which currently has a massive nationwide waitlist — but instead, they’re choosing to target immigrants.
The new proposal from Carson’s department fits in with the Trump administration’s continued larger false narrative that immigrants and more specifically, those without appropriate documentation pose not just a security but an economic threat to the United States. President Donald Trump himself has repeatedly trumpeted numbers about the supposed cost of undocumented immigration to the United States that are not based in reality. Late last year, the nonpartisan Fiscal Policy Institute’s Deputy Director David Dyssegaard Kallick called Trump’s estimates of that cost “frankly absurd,” adding that it’s “really hard to calculate anyone’s ‘net cost’ or ‘net benefit'” in the first place.
As he put it:
‘You’re talking about people who work for very low wages and are excluded from nearly all social services. It takes a real act of will to say they’re exploiting us.’
Yet, Trump and his associates continue on down that exact path — even as they break the law through means like Carson’s department getting a $8,000 dishwasher installed without telling Congress, as is legally required.
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