OP-ED: Public charge rule – inhumane for families

NO matter where you came from and the color of your skin, all parents want what is best for their children. Except those, it seems, in the Trump administration. Because they have once again told immigrant families: we don’t want you, don’t try and live the American dream.

They have released a new, inhumane rule that targets people applying to get their green card, or legal permanent. It’s unfortunately just one in a long line of actions the Trump administration has taken to pit working people against each other. What they should be doing is putting families first, helping children develop into healthy adults and making it possible for every single person in this country to obtain healthcare, education and healthy food.

NO ONE should be penalized for legally safeguarding their family’s well-being because too many jobs pay poverty wages making working people rely on anti-hunger, anti-poverty, affordable housing and healthcare in order to thrive.

But that’s what this public charge rule does. Last year, the Trump administration received over 200,00 public comments on their proposed rule and of that amount, over 20,000 comments were from the Asian Pacific Islander community, 10% of the public comments submitted, illustrating the importance this rule is to our Asian Pacific Islander communities. If legal challenges are not successful, it will go into effect in October.

The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) has close to 2 million members: hospital workers, public health and community-based clinic workers, long term care workers providing care at home for our seniors, mental health and emergency services, help educate our children from babies to college, just to name a few of the jobs and services SEIU members provide every day. We represent the largest number of Asian Pacific Islander union workers, over 110,000.

SEIU is a member of the OneNation AAPI coalition and I serve on the OneNation AAPI Commission. Asian Health Services, is one of the leading AAPI community-based organization and healthcare agency in the nation that is dedicated to providing quality culturally competent healthcare and other services in Alameda County, California and is a leader of the OneNation AAPI Coalition and the employees of Asian Health Services are SEIU members.

Manang Femy is a 79-year-old immigrant from the Philippines, a proud U.S. citizen and has been a patient at Asian Health Services for 23 years. Her son served in the U.S. Navy for 24 years, deployed multiple times, including 3 tours in Iraq and had to leave his family and miss his children’s college graduations in order to serve and protect our Country. Manang Femy continued to work and pay taxes to this Country and raised her family.

Upon hearing about the Public Charge rule, she remembered what it was like as a new immigrant, and Manang Femy worried about the patients at Asian Health Services and other immigrant families who work hard everyday, sometimes working two or more jobs to provide for their families. She took action and organized nearly 100 people to submit comments with their concerns on the new Public Charge rule and it was SEIU members working at Asian Health Services who educated her and other patients about the Public Charge rule and its impact on immigrant families. Manang Femy stood up and spoke out for her family and other immigrant families.

I am first-generation born to parents who immigrated from the Philippines; my father proudly served in the U.S. Army during WWII and my mother retired from Bank of America. Both worked very hard to provide for my brothers and me to reach the American dream. I am a former Intensive Care Nurse who worked at San Francisco General Hospital for 9 years and served as president for SEIU Local 400-790 for four years while working for San Francisco General. I also worked at Asian Health Services for three years as their clinical coordinator and helped establish their patient advisory committee.

I am now an Executive Vice President of SEIU leading our Union’s Asian Pacific Islander civic engagement and leadership program. As a former RN access to quality culturally competent healthcare will always be close to my heart.

Together with SEIU members and community allies, like the OneNation AAPI Coalition, we will continue to be advocates for the communities we serve no matter where they came from and the color of their skin. All we want is what is best for our families.
Stand up and speak out!

Luisa Blue is the executive vice president of Service Employees International Union (SEIU).

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