By Miller Friedman
A local Jewish agency has joined others in a joint complaint against a federal rule dictating that any immigrant who relies on public resources such as food stamps or Medicare to meet their needs may be ineligible for legal immigration status.
The Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington (JCRC) filed a joint complaint in the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland opposing the federal government’s changes to the public charge rule.
The complaint, which was also filed by the city of Gaithersburg, Maryland state Sen. Jeff Waldstreicher (D-18th District) and the mayor and city council of Baltimore, among others, alleges the new rule is designed “to disfavor poorer immigrants and immigrants of color,” and requests the court vacate the rule.
Guila Franklin Siegel, associate director of JCRC, said that her agency joined the complaint because the Jewish people can sympathize with the struggle of refugees.
“We keenly understand the plight of today’s immigrants,” Franklin Siegel said. “If there had been such a rule proposed during the height of immigration to this country, when most of our ancestors came over to America, many of them would not have been granted access.”
Franklin Siegel also said the rule will discourage other immigrants who would otherwise be eligible for legal status from entering the country.
“The whole point of it is counterintuitive,” Franklin Siegel said.
The complaint, which was filed on Sept. 27, says that the rule “will dramatically shrink the workforce available to assist frail elders and younger people with disabilities,” and this will cause harm to JCRC members, many of whom provide quality care to elderly and disabled communities.
The complaint says that the market for aides in home care agencies and nursing facilities is so tight that “some agencies are requiring their workers to sign non-compete agreements to prevent them from moving to competitors.”
The complaint also says that as a result of the rule, “immigrants and their families will increasingly rely on JCRC’s and its members’ programs for assistance in navigating this new terrain.”
Franklin Siegel said it is the responsibility of the Jewish community to advocate for the broader community, and objection to the public charge rule is part of that responsibility.
“We are commanded in the Torah to care for the poor among us and to care for the disadvantaged among us,” Franklin Siegel said.