Kilili: DHS proposal undermines nutrition benefits for kids, families

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Delegate Gregorio Kilili C. Sablan (Ind-MP) joined Democrats in the House Committee on Education and the Workforce yesterday in opposing the Department of Homeland Security’s proposed changes to the definition of “public charge.”

The new proposal would allow DHS to deny status to immigrants based on their use of certain public benefits. Candidates for permanent residency (or green cards) could be rejected if they, and in some cases their family members, are found to have received federal assistance such as food stamps, housing subsidy, Medicaid, or Women, Infants, and Children benefits.

In a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, Sablan and 16 of his colleagues noted that the proposed changes would force many non-U.S. citizen families to choose between providing healthy food for their children and protecting their immigration status.

“When children lack the necessary resources for consistent access to healthy food, they are at risk for malnutrition and other adverse health, educational, and developmental consequences,” the Education and the Workforce Committee Democrats wrote. “The future economic success and health of our nation’s children relies on protecting and strengthening access to the programs and supports that can enable them to succeed.”

In their letter, the House members warned that the rule not only threatens many children’s access to needed benefits at home, but also threatens their access to benefits in their schools, including free or reduced lunch. The rule also makes it more difficult for schools to utilize the community eligibility provision, which streamlines the process for allowing all children in high-poverty schools and communities to receive free meals.

In 2017, nearly 3 million U.S. households were unable to provide adequate, nutritious food for their children during the year. (PR)

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