DMARC Statement on “Public Charge” Final Rule

The Des Moines Area Religious Council (DMARC) strongly opposes the Department of Homeland Security (DHS)’s final rule, “Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds.” We believe the “public charge” rule will negatively impact the health and nutrition of children and families in Iowa and throughout the nation.

Last year, DMARC submitted a public comment opposing the proposed “public charge” rule, and encouraged our supporters to do the same. Over 266,000 public comments were received by DHS, the majority of them in opposition to the “public charge” rule. The final rule is scheduled to go into effect on October 15, 2019.

As is many times the case with federal rule changes or program cut proposals, this rule fails to recognize or mitigate the unintended consequences of its implementation. Since news of this “public charge” rule first leaked in January 2017, it has generated fear and confusion in our immigrant communities.

Many families are choosing not to enroll or un-enrolling from federal benefit programs they are eligible for, including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), out of fear that it could put their immigration status at risk in the future. This “chilling effect” is expected to negatively impact the health and nutrition of families across our nation, and shift burden to state and local responses to health care and food insecurity.

Private nonprofits and charities can expect to see increasing requests for assistance. DMARC is already seeing record use of our Food Pantry Network, and the emergency food system will struggle with continued additional increases. Should this rule go into effect in October, at the beginning of our Food Pantry Network’s busiest season of the year, DMARC and other nonprofits may struggle to absorb the impact.

The “public charge” rule is one of many actions and statements by this administration that shows a clear contempt for programs that support low-income individuals, immigrants, and minorities. We call on our elected officials across Greater Des Moines, Iowa, and our representatives in Washington to condemn the “public charge” rule and do everything in their power to see that the rule does not go into effect. Furthermore, we call on our elected officials to reject any policy or rule change that will negatively impact programs contributing to the health and nutrition of people in our community.

What can you do?

Contact your legislators today to let them know you oppose the “Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds” rule, ask your Representative to co-sponsor H.R. 3222 – No Federal Funds for Public Charge Act of 2019 – which would deny federal funds from being used to carry out the proposed DHS public charge rule, and let them know you support SNAP and other safety net programs.

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