Oregon Sues to Protect Legal Immigrants’ Benefits

On Friday, Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum announced that Oregon will join a lawsuit to block new federal rules that target immigrants who are legally in the country and have applied for public benefits.

For instance, more than 250,000 immigrants work in Oregon – and 132,000 children are covered by the Oregon Health Plan who have at least one immigrant parent. The new rule would target these families, along with families or individuals seeking housing assistance, like Section 8, and nutrition benefits such as SNAP.

The new so called “Public Charge Rule” states, in part, that if an immigrant requests help, even if it is temporary, the federal government could revoke their legal status, green card, or threaten deportation.

The federal government defines a “public charge” as someone who is primarily dependent on either public cash assistance for income, or is in institutional long-term care at the government’s expense. The new rule says that any application for public assistance of any kind could be determined to be a “public charge.”

KTVZ reports Rosenblum said “This cruel new rule punishes families for simply being immigrants. The rule will hit children and families across our state who need food and medical assistance the most. Parents will be reluctant to access public health care for their children, or food benefits, for fear that their immigration status will be revoked.”

California, Maine, Pennsylvania and the District of Columbia have also joined this lawsuit.

The suit asserts the new federal rules :

  • Violate equal protection guarantees of the Fifth Amendment.
  • Exceeds the administrations’ authority under immigration law.
  • Are punitive to lower wage workers, and fail to assess the costs and impacts on states and individual communities.

By Andy Thompson