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Tonight, 12 candidates will take the fourth Democratic debate stage in Westerville, Ohio. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard will be there, despite considering a boycott of the event.

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Public Charge Policy Could Threaten Health Care for Nebraska Kids

Use of programs including Medicaid, SNAP and Section 8 public housing will factor into the determination by immigration officials of who gets a green card. (Wikimedia Commons)
Use of programs including Medicaid, SNAP and Section 8 public housing will factor into the determination by immigration officials of who gets a green card. (Wikimedia Commons)
August 13, 2019

LINCOLN, Neb. — The Trump administration has finalized a new rule that could deny green cards to immigrants if they access public benefits - including health care, nutrition and housing assistance - or if officials believe they might do so in the future.

Olivia Golden, executive director at the Center for Law and Social Policy, said Monday's move ignores more than a quarter million comments submitted by faith leaders, major health advocacy organizations and health providers, all opposed to the measure's impact on children, low-income families and people of color.

"In America, wealth should not be the measure of worth,” Golden said. “The color of your skin should not count more than the content of your character. We should protect, and not attack, children and families."

Immigrant rights groups announced plans to take legal action to block the measure, which currently is set to go into effect in mid-October.

Proponents of the rule claim the measure will promote self-sufficiency and save taxpayers money. The Trump administration says it did respond to pediatricians' concerns, and noted the new rule would not apply to children's Medicaid coverage.

Dr. Julie Linton, a pediatrician with the American Academy of Pediatrics, said while it's good news that the administration removed children's Medicaid coverage from the new rule, because the 800-plus page measure is so complicated, it has already created a major chilling effect. She said since the proposal was first announced in September of 2018, families have stopped taking kids to the doctor for fear it could lead to family separation.

"I think it's incredibly misguided of the administration to expect that adding that is sufficient to appease the concerns of pediatricians,” Linton said. “Because we're very concerned that this chilling effect will have a deep and really devastating impact on our ability to care for all children."

Children's advocates urged struggling families to continue to get kids the nutrition and health care they need, in part because the rule won't go into affect until after 60 days. The new rule also would not apply to any assistance received before the rule goes into effect.

Eric Galatas, Public News Service - NE