The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has received 216,102 public comments on a Trump administration proposal that would make it harder for legal immigrants to obtain green cards or permanent residency if they use Medicaid, food stamps, housing subsidies or other common federal benefits. The comments were overwhelmingly against the proposal.
It’s safe to say that Northeast L.A. had a part in the outpouring. Starting last fall, NELA County Supervisor Hilda Solis joined Mayor Garcetti to bolster public opposition to the proposal, urging the public to use a dedicated city website to send comments to DHS, the agency in charge of shaping the proposal into a federal regulation.
The number of comments will slow down the regulatory process because, by law, DHS has to consider the submissions before the proposal is finalized. If the proposal is eventually finalized, there would be a 60 day wait period before it takes effect. An effective date could be further delayed by legal challenges to a final rule.
In the meantime, however, some immigrants have asked whether using federal benefits now could harm their chances for permanent residency in the future.
The basic answer is “no.”
“Even if the Administration’s proposal became final and took effect, it would not be retroactive,” said Supervisor Solis in reply to questions from the BoulevardSentinel. So, immigrants should not be punished later for using Medicaid, food stamps and housing assistance today.
Still, Supervisor Solis recommended that anyone who is concerned about the impact of using public benefits on their current or future immigration status should seek legal aid. The Office of Immigrant Affairs of the County of L.A. can refer immigrants to appropriate legal help. The website is: oia.lacounty.gov. Or by phone: 800-593-8222.
T.A. Hendrickson, a native of Eagle Rock, is the editor of the Boulevard Sentinel, and a former member of the Editorial Board of the New York Times. Hendrickson is committed to local news reporting and to finding a way forward for local news outlets in today's challenging media markets.