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"Public Charge" Proposal Already Affecting Nebraska Kids

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Immigrants applying for SNAP benefits for their U.S. citizen children do not have to provide agencies with their personal immigration status. (Public Domain Pictures)
Immigrants applying for SNAP benefits for their U.S. citizen children do not have to provide agencies with their personal immigration status. (Public Domain Pictures)
December 6, 2018

OMAHA, Neb. – With a Dec. 10 deadline for public comments just around the corner, immigrants' rights groups say they're hoping Nebraskans will make their voices heard on a proposal by the Trump administration.

The "public charge" rule change would make it harder for some people to get green cards if they receive specific public benefits, including nutrition benefits through SNAP, and Medicaid.

Mindy Rush Chipman, senior managing attorney with the Immigrant Legal Center in Omaha, says the rule could limit children's access to nutritious food as well as health, dental and mental health services.

"It's clear that parents' health and access to health care and proper support services impacts not just the parents, but it impacts the children as well," she states.

Chipman says the proposal has already created a chilling effect, as some Nebraska families with U.S. citizen children have stopped applying for benefits.

She says many services are still available without risk, including WIC – Women, Infants and Children – school meals and food pantries.

Proponents maintain the new rule would promote immigrant self-sufficiency and save taxpayers money.

Comments can be submitted online at Regulations.gov.

Chipman points to a recent study by the Cato Institute that shows native-born Americans are more likely to tap government programs than immigrants.

She says helping struggling families is an important investment.

"When low-income families are provided access to preventative health care, access to safe and healthy housing and access to nutrition, that in fact saves taxpayers money in the long run," Chipman states.

Chipman says before opting out of benefits, people can get free legal advice on which services might impact their immigration status through the Nebraska Immigration Legal Assistance Hotline.

Help is available in multiple languages, and all calls are toll free and confidential. That number is 855-307-6730.

Eric Galatas, Public News Service - NE