The United States Catholic Bishops express their concern and opposition to a new ruling that is expected to have negative consequences for families accessing critical public benefits as they argue that this could undermine family unity.
The new rule, regarding who in the United States receives public benefits and who does not, was scheduled to be published on Wednesday, 14 August, but could take another 60 days before being put into effect.
What the rule says
The rule is part of the current US Administration’s efforts to curb immigration, and targets those considered “public charges”, or burdens on the system.
According to the new rule, anyone seeking to enter or to remain in the United States, must prove they are self-sufficient and are not reliant on public assistance. Application of the new rule would also mean fewer people being given legal immigrant status.
What the Bishops say
“The rule will undermine family unity and lead many lawful immigrants to forgo vital assistance, including enrollment in nutrition, housing, and medical programs”. These are the opening lines of a statement published by the Chairs of the United States Catholic Bishops Conference Committees on Migration, and Domestic Justice and Human Development.
Bishop Joe Vàsquez of Texas, and Bishop Frank Dewane of Florida, issued the statement on Tuesday.
“Families already in the U.S. will be faced with deciding whether to access critical assistance programs for which they qualify, knowing that in doing so they could jeopardize their ability to stay here with their loved ones”, continues the statement. According to the Bishops, the rule will “reduce the ability of many to reunify with family in the United States”.
The USCCB statement goes on to describe the “culture of fear that the anticipation of this rule has already created in our communities”.
The Bishops conclude by saying they believe this rule is “in tension with the dignity of the person and the common good that all of us are called to support”.