Baltimore city officials believe new Homeland Security public charge policy harms Baltimoreans

Posted at 3:17 PM, Aug 15, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-15 15:17:43-04

BALTIMORE — In a statement released by the Baltimore Mayor's office, it was addressed that with the Department of Homeland Security's recent rule changing the definition of "public charge" it presents an issue for members of immigrant communities in Baltimore and across the country.

According to the statement, although the Trump administration is labeling the new policy change as being consistent with long standing immigration law and not a new anti-immigrant policy, Baltimore city officials believe otherwise.

Baltimore city officials sued DHS last November challenging the State Department’s Foreign Affairs Manual public charge definition change as an unlawful attempt to destroy foreign-born residents from having government services they are legally entitled to. The statement says since the FAM change in January 2018, immigrant visa denials skyrocketed by 300%. They also say Hispanic, African, and Asian applicants, in particular, are being denied visas at a higher rate than before the change.

“This public charge policy harms Baltimore. When some members of our community are driven into the shadows, the greater community is also harmed: public health, public safety, our culture and our economy all suffer.”

City officials believe this recent change has caused immigrant communities in Baltimore and in the U.S. to decline to accept health and nutrition benefits out of a fear that they, or family members, will suffer immigration consequences.

“When portions of our community are afraid to seek out publicly funded, life-saving treatments when they or members of their family are sick, the health of the whole City is placed at risk," said Health Commissioner Letitia Dzirasa.

Baltimore City Solicitor Andre M. Davis hopes the government’s motion to dismiss the city lawsuit will be soon denied.