A community comprised mostly of Caribbean immigrants in East Flatbush, Brooklyn is still suffering the consequences after a proposed rule from the Trump Administration. The rule change seeks to restrict immigrants from obtaining a green card if they have used public assistance.
The Trump Administration’s proposed rule change was revealed by the Department of Homeland Security last September as part of a “public charge rule.” These changes are a policy change designed to reduce how many people can receive a green card and visas. Congress created this public charge rule years ago but failed to establish a definition for what a public charge is. Now, the Trump Administration is utilizing the vagueness of the rule to assert its own agenda.
How is Policy Being Changed?
The public charge rule has been used by immigration officials since about 1999. Since then, they’ve defined a public charge as someone who public cash assistance for income or someone who receives institutional care at the government’s expense. The Trump Administration is seeking to define “public charge” more specifically as someone who uses public assistance programs such as welfare, food stamps, Medicaid, or housing vouchers. The administration has over 150,000 comments on the document to read and respond to before rule changes will take effect.
Why This Change Harms East Flatbush
Many activists are worried about what the new rules will do to members of their community who are already scared to go out in public. In a comment to Kings County Politics, immigration Attorney Roland Ottley commented “He [President Trump] has created a lot of fear in the immigrant community and he continues to do so and I’ve heard reports of people who are afraid to go to schools, to pick their children up from school, to go to church, to go out shopping and to bring lawsuits when they may be entitled to do so.”
While the rules were always vague, this new definition of them would specifically target members of the East Flatbush community who need financial assistance. Shellon Washington, another immigration attorney, commented that “This proposed rule would affect working-class immigrants, especially from the Caribbean, very negatively.” She continued, “It will disqualify them from becoming an American citizen.”
To make matters worse, residents are already worried about the already heightened police presence in East Flatbush—it makes them feel like they are stuck in a garrison, according to Albert St. Jean of the Black Alliance for Just Immigration. The New York City organizer argues that a majority of deportations happen in the area because of over-policing.
Opponents to the rule are particularly frustrated that its proposal comes during a moment in officials developed a new healthcare plan for undocumented Caribbean immigrants. They worry that deported immigrants will not receive the same healthcare that they do in East Flatbush, and many will die once returning to their country of origin.
If you are facing deportation, call our New York immigration attorney at (800) 909-8129 for a free consultation. Answers are available, and you deserve help from someone who will fight for your family.