County Judges from Bexar, Dallas, El Paso, and Travis Counties Sent Joint Letter to DHS Secretary Nielsen

County Judges representing more than 6.6 million Texas residents sent a joint letter to U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, expressing their concern over the recently proposed “public charge” rule changes. The proposed changes would disqualify immigrant families from being able to obtain visas and green cards if they received or sought access to public programs such as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Medicaid, and possibly the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP).

The rule is expected to be published in the federal register this week, which would start a 60-day public comment period during which residents are encouraged to submit individual comments expressing their concerns with the proposed revisions. While people seeking visas and green cards would not be in any way disqualified if they sought services on behalf of their U.S. citizen or resident children, the County Judges concern that confusion and fear may take years to reverse.

“One in four Texas children has at least one parent who is not a U.S. citizen. If this rule were changed as proposed, it would raise fears in the families of as many as 1.8 million Texas children. Under the proposed rule, immigration officials could deny lawful permanent residency to immigrants if they have low incomes and a history of using certain public benefits, including health care (Medicaid, and Medicare’s “Extra Help” subsidies for prescription medications); food (the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program SNAP, formerly "food stamps”); and housing (Section 8 vouchers/subsidies),” wrote the four County Judges who sent the letter.

“I am ashamed of this administration seeking to weaponize public assistance programs as a strategy to suppress immigration. We need reformed immigration policy based on compassion and reason, not deformed immigration policy based on division and fear,” said Travis County Judge Sarah Eckhardt.

Read the full letter sent to DHS Secretary Nielsen.