Concerns for “Public Charge”
by Ben Enchevarria, The Welcome Project
“[T]here is a lot of talk about the Act being discriminatory. I do not know what is discriminatory about it…and I do not know what is wrong being discriminatory…The proposed changes…will discriminate against gangsters, idiots, prostitutes, and some other undesirables.” -Sam Baccala, Americanism Chairman of the Baltimore District American 1965 during testimony to the Senate judiciary subcommittee on immigration. (Gabriel J. Chin, 2015)
Although the quote was made over 52 years ago many of the sentiments made continue to be stated currently about immigrants; simply exchange Gangsters, prostitutes, and idiots for murders, drug dealers, and rapist. Immigration today is no better than it was throughout our history. Immigration laws have been used to remove or restrict various races, nationalities, and ethnicities throughout our history.
The first immigration act was the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882. The act placed a 10-year moratorium on Chinese immigration and banned naturalization for Chinese people. This act was formed after blaming the Chinese, who comprised .002% of the American population, for declining wages and economic ills. In 1902, this act was passed but made the ban permanent. Today we blame Mexicans instead of the Chinese for our economic ills.
Today we began to see how this current administration wants to limit immigration and who can become a citizen by changing what type of services can limit a person from becoming a citizen. Known as the “Public Charge” the Trump administration wants to expand services that green card holders can be denied citizenship in the past cash benefits but now the proposed changes would deny SNAP, Federally subsidized housing, and Medicare health insurance. Such changes would apply to anyone on a green card or visa.
Of course, these changes are targeted to hurt many poor immigrants who have come to this country to try to make a better life for their families and themselves. These changes defy who we are as a nation. The “New Colossus” the poem on the Statue of Liberty reminds us “give us your poor” as a nation we need to do better, we need to be better. We need to help everyone find freedom.