The Trump administration keeps rolling out anti-immigrant policy plans, and concerned interests like the state government of California keep rolling out harsh responses to them. Following the reveal of a new rule meant to count immigrant usage of public benefit programs like Medicaid and food stamps against attempts at citizenship, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra has filed a lawsuit alleging the move is blatantly illegal. He and those allied with the suit — which includes at the outset the attorneys general of Maine, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and D.C. — allege that the rule change’s illegality ranges from violating the Fifth Amendment’s demand for due process to illegally circumventing Congressional authority in the establishment of new immigration policy.
While as the Trump administration has correctly noted, there’s a long history of seeking to keep influxes of immigrants who would become a so-called “public charge,” their singling out of immigrants who receive government benefits that large numbers of native-born white Americans also receive is a definitive new step.
‘This cruel policy would force working parents and families across the nation to forego basic necessities like food, housing and healthcare out of fear. That is simply unacceptable… In California we know that welcoming and investing in all communities makes our entire nation stronger. I know this being the son of hard-working, modest immigrants who likely would have been victims of this regressive policy.’
Democratic California Governor Gavin Newsom added broader commentary, tying the rule change to a broader affront to Californians and Americans as a whole.
‘This latest move by the federal administration to demonize immigrants is personal for us, in a state where half of our children have at least one immigrant parent. This new rule, designed to create fear in immigrant families, is cruel and threatens our public health. That is not who we are in California, and not who we are as Americans.’
In some kind of twisted attempt at a defense of the rule change, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services head Ken Cuccinelli went on a media blitz in recent days in which he established and tried to defend some kind of “rewrite” of the poem at the bottom of the Statue of Liberty, which famously calls on those around to send their “masses yearning to breathe free.” At one point, he tried to convince CNN host Erin Burnett that the poem was meant to apply to Europeans. Unsurprisingly — that hasn’t exactly gone over well, and he’s attracted tons of criticism.
On Monday, Cuccinelli tried to convince those concerned about the rule change that it’s really not all that bad. He insisted:
‘A poor person can be prepared to be self-sufficient. Many have been throughout the history of this country, so let’s not look at that as the be-all and end-all.’
So what then — the standard we should be reaching for is whether people who might be affected by the rule can technically survive if they decide to forego the benefit programs that white Americans use every single day without any kind of repercussion? Seriously? How low can they go?
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