The Proposed Rule and its impact
The latest move of the Trump administration is one of many attempts to target immigrants and restricts public assistance of any kind. On May 2019 the US Administration in Washington proposed federal rule on housing that singles out undocumented immigrants from availing the housing benefits of housing assistance. The Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Chief announced that waitlists for subsidized housing are too long while the critics say the rule will negatively affect American-born children of immigrants.
The Trump administration is pushing to finalize a fresh policy to thwart undocumented family members of US citizens and documented immigrants from living with them in public housing provided under the federal law. The proposed rule is composed of a much broader Trump administration crackdown on immigration since the president took office,
The Public Housing Authorities, on the other hand, vowed to fight in courts for the rights of deserving households and their children who were born in America. It is estimated that the number of affected children could reach 55,000, who are legal residents of the USA. The rule, on the other hand, was supposed to prevent illegal immigrants from receiving this federal housing support.
Around 25,000 families of ‘mixed’ (who have at least one undocumented member in the family) status are targeted in this proposed law by denying the whole family any housing assistance. HUD acknowledged that this rule could have a distressing consequence for over 100,000 people, 70 percent of whom are legal residents with around 55,000 children among them. In some cases, the proposed rule could result in further homelessness. “Temporary homelessness could arise for a household, particularly in tight housing markets, if they are unable to find substitute housing,” says HUD.
- The president of the National Low Income Housing Coalition called the proposal vindictive, noting that HUD itself has accepted that it will not benefit other low-income families in waiting lists. The analysis of HUD also confirmed that it will also cause splitting up of families is due to the fact that undocumented member will be asked to leave so that the family may continue to receive the aid.
- Affordable housing, child welfare, and immigrant advocates have criticized the proposal with the argument that the rule is pointless because by law, many immigrants, including undocumented people, already are not entitled to receive housing subsidies. The cruelty of the rule lies in the fact that it would ban every member of a family from receiving this subsidy even if just one family member is ineligible, including those over 62. They added that the children might be the biggest losers as a result of this law in this country where children are already under threat and this rule adds to that threat.
- The president of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, called the suggestion “as mean-spirited and irrational as the Trump Administration’s other anti-immigrant policy positions.” The HUD secretary, on the other hand, represented the proposed change as a way to help Americans who are in need of lodging assistance. This argument is doubted by housing advocates.
- The Executive director of the Public Housing Authorities Directors Association also termed the rule “real surprise”.
Housing and Urban Development View
HUD said that to limit the adverse impact on the eligible children, another possibility could be to implement the rule only to those families whose leaseholder is undocumented.
Secretary Ben Carson told lawmakers at the end of May 2019 that in a country with 4.2 million families waiting for Section 8 housing vouchers, it is not fair to continue assisting illegal residents. Carson defended HUD’s anticipated rule to evict tenants who aren’t U.S. citizens or immigrants with green cards, refugees or asylum-seekers. “It seems only logical that tax-paying American citizens come first,” he further added. The rule would also require residents under the age of 62 to verify their status and eligibility for this federal assistance.
The HUD Secretary said he was both trying to fulfill with federal law and decrease the long lists of families waiting. According to HUD, only 25 % of eligible families actually receive it. Some 2.6 million households are waiting for housing vouchers, while another 1.6 million households are waiting for public housing.
But those in support of limited immigration backed Carson’s claim that a rule is a commonsense approach. The director of policy studies for the Center for Immigration Studies, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank said, “Because of the short supply of public housing, it’s crucial that the government makes sure that people who shouldn’t be in the country aren’t preventing Americans’ or legal immigrants’ access to public housing.”
It is worth mentioning that the differences are important to state policy because while the federal government foots the bill, public housing is managed at the state and local level by public housing authorities.
The Los Angeles Country Development Authority Executive Director expressed the fear that the new rule could set back their two years’ working on the issue of homeless crisis as it has significant implications for the state like California, with its own issues.
Kaiser of the directors association pointed out that housing authorities are already struggling with reducing budgets and worsening stock and the rule might put the housing authorities in a further difficult situation. For example, in some cases, the mother and children are either documented or American citizens, but the grandmother living with them is illegal who doesn’t get the subsidy. But the mom is unstable, and the grandmother is the glue holding the family together. It will be pitiless to evict grandma in such a case.
The lawmakers from the states with the highest number of immigrants- California, New York and Texas, in the House Committee on Financial Services demanded to know the administration’s plans regarding American born children. Some termed it as a most damaging proposal.
HUD also said that the increase in the subsidy of the non-mixed households will cost the government around $227 million that the Congress is unlikely to appropriate. The increased costs, according to HUD officials, would come in paying higher subsidies to replacement families all of whose members qualify for housing assistance and on average have lower incomes. It is also expected that to cope with the higher costs the HUD might choose to reduce the number and quality of assisted housing means fewer housing vouchers and less money for maintenance that might result in further deterioration of public housing.
The administration is accepting public comment on the proposed rule until July 9.