Policy Resource

ZERO TO THREE Statement in Response to the Administration’s “Public Charge” Proposal

Sep 27, 2018

The following statement should be attributed to Myra Jones-Taylor, chief policy officer at ZERO TO THREE:

“At ZERO TO THREE, we are deeply concerned about the impact that the Administration’s recent Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on public charge will have on families with young children. The proposal puts the healthy development of millions of children living in immigrant families at risk and creates wrenching choices for families.

The proposed rule will expand the definition of who is considered a “public charge” when applying for a green card or visa. Under the new proposed definition, if families access or are likely to access certain government programs, such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Medicaid, or housing assistance, they risk their opportunity to obtain legal status in the United States. This presents parents with an impossible choice: access proven supports that ensure they can meet the basic needs of their children and set them on a path to healthy development, or forego those crucial services and increase their chances of successful immigration.

The impact of this proposed change is extensive, with both immediate and long-term consequences. Approximately one in every four children live with at least one immigrant parent. By penalizing families for their use of essential services, this proposal puts many of these children at risk of losing supports that help them thrive.

Programs like SNAP, Medicaid, and housing assistance are particularly critical for infants and toddlers. A baby’s brain makes more than one million neural connections every second, growing faster than at any later point in their life. When babies have access to resources that provide safe, stable housing, access to quality, affordable health care, and good nutrition, those neural connections are strengthened, forming a strong foundation for future development. When babies don’t get what their growing brains need to thrive, they don’t develop as they should, leading to life-long developmental, educational, social, and health challenges. If parents aren’t able to receive benefits or are afraid to access the benefits for which their children qualify, the entire family suffers.

Tying the use of these crucial supports to the ability to obtain a green card or visa in our country harms babies, toddlers, and their families, and ultimately, America’s future. All babies deserve a strong start in life. We strongly oppose any proposal that threatens their opportunity to reach their fullest potential.”

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