Washington State

Office of the Attorney General

Attorney General

Bob Ferguson

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 
Dec 10 2018

“Public charge” rule would cost Washington jobs, cost families health care and food assistance

OLYMPIA — Attorney General Bob Ferguson, Governor Jay Inslee and Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan today submitted a comment letter criticizing proposed Trump Administration rules targeting immigrants. The revisions to the so-called “public charge” rule would harm Washingtonians, causing children – citizens and non-citizens alike – to forfeit meals, health insurance, and a roof over their heads.  

“We have serious concerns with the legality of the Proposed Rules,” the letter states. “Further, they are based on a distorted view of the United States’ ideals and conflict with Congress’ longstanding immigration policy.”

The letter is available here.

“If these unlawful rules are adopted, thousands of Washington families will suffer,” Ferguson said. “If necessary, my office will stand up for those families, and ensure the Trump Administration can’t take this illegal action.”

“This cruel effort to punish lawfully present immigrants and their families is yet another attempt to enflame xenophobic stereotypes, stoke fear and divide communities,” Inslee said. “It is already harming children and parents across our state who are forfeiting meals, health care, and stable housing out of confusion and alarm. Washington State stands resolutely opposed to these new rules and urges the Administration to maintain access to the resources that help these families thrive and contribute so much to our great state and nation.”

“Time and again, we have seen this administration continue their cruel, divisive, and unlawful attacks on our immigrant and refugee neighbors,” Durkan said. “The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) should immediately withdraw its current proposal and dedicate its efforts to advancing policies that strengthen — rather than undermine — the ability of immigrants to support themselves and their families in the future.”

Washington state is home to 455,000 children who are U.S. citizens and have at least one immigrant parent. 

The letter states that the Department of Homeland Security concedes in the proposed rules that they would “deter legally present visa holders from using important assistance programs. Over 140,000 Washington residents could lose health insurance because of the Proposed Rules. Women will lose routine reproductive care services, resulting in more unintended pregnancies, more high-risk deliveries, and increased costs for newborns whose health is compromised by the lack of adequate pre-natal care. Washingtonians will be forced into emergency rooms for routine medical care, jeopardizing our State’s success in reducing uncompensated care and driving up state-funded alien emergency medical care. The Proposed Rules will cause residents of Washington to forego up to $55.3 million annually in State food and cash benefits and $198.7 million annually in medical care. If implemented, the Rules will reduce total economic output in Washington by up to $97.5 million annually, cut Washingtonians’ wages up to $36.7 million annually, and eliminate anywhere from 334 to 782 jobs.”

Ferguson, Inslee and Durkan write that the proposed rules will likely not survive a legal challenge because they are “arbitrary and capricious,” unconstitutionally vague and violate the Fifth Amendment equal protection guarantee.

“The Proposed Rules unduly punish and discourage immigrants who receive almost any government assistance for longer than one year,” the letter reads. “They undercut Washington State public policies predicated on the belief that providing immigrants – especially children – with limited assistance now will promote long-term success and lead to greater contributions to our State in the future. It is ironic that many foreign-born families of the founders of iconic American companies, who were poor, young, and fleeing harsh economic and political conditions, would be denied green cards under the Proposed Rules.”

Ferguson also joined attorneys general of Virginia, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, New Mexico, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington, D.C., also raising concerns about the proposed rules. That letter is available here.

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The Office of the Attorney General is the chief legal office for the state of Washington with attorneys and staff in 27 divisions across the state providing legal services to roughly 200 state agencies, boards and commissions. Visit www.atg.wa.gov to learn more.

Contacts:

Brionna Aho, Communications Director, (360) 753-2727; brionna.aho@atg.wa.gov