Families shouldn’t be punished for accepting help when they need it

The federal government is making fundamental  changes to our legal immigration system, putting thousands of Oklahomans at risk – including up to 123,000 children. On October 10th, the Department of Homeland Security proposed a change to the rules that we use to determine whether legal immigrants can apply for legal permanent residency. Under current rules, if legal immigrants have participated in a very narrow range of programs (like Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) it will count against them when they apply for a Green Card to live here permanently.

Under the proposed change, participation in a much larger range of programs (including SNAP, Medicaid, Medicare Part D, and housing assistance) will negatively affect the ability of legal immigrants to stay in the country. This rule change would make it harder for families to put food on the table, get medical care when they need it, pay for prescription drugs, and find a safe place to live.

The proposed rule change will be available for public comment until December 10. This is your opportunity to make your voice heard and share how this change could impact struggling Oklahoma families. Oklahoma families are counting on us. Please join us in standing with them.

What You Can Do

  • Submit a public comment. Public comments can shape policy, and the deadline for public comments is December 10. For a quick and simple way to submit a comment, use this easy comment form. Scroll down the form for more information about how this proposed rule would affect access to education, health care, housing, and more. 
  • Tell your friends to submit a comment. Follow the Coalition for the Future of Oklahoma Families on Facebook and Twitter, and use the coalition’s resources when talking to your friends, family, and organizations you belong to. 

Social Media Shareables

Key points:

  • Struggling families will be forced to make terrible choices – like choosing between making sure their children have enough to eat and staying in the United States.
  • This change will make legal immigrant families afraid to seek and accept help when they are struggling – in some cases, it already has. These families will go without, facing hunger, homelessness, and illness just to stay in the country.
  • This change could easily create a public health crisis that would affect us all – when struggling families are unable to access regular medical care, they less likely to get immunizations and more likely to get sick and go without treatment.
  • Illegal immigration is likely to increase – making it harder for legal immigrants to enter and stay in the country makes it more likely that they will try to do so illegally.
  • This change will place a great burden on charities and religious organizations – when immigrant families can no longer safely access public programs to get help when they need it, they are likely to look to charitable organizations for help. But these organization are likely to struggle to meet this increased need, meaning more families will go without help.
  • Leading organizations have taken a stand against this rule – including the National Education Association, the American Medical Association, the National Housing Law Projectthe Food Research Action Center, and many more

Additional Links & Resources:

  • No family should be punished for accepting help when they need it: Bad luck or hard times can hit any of us, and when it happens we should all be able to seek and accept help to meet basic needs while we work to get back on our feet.  But for many Oklahoma families, that assurance of compassion and help may soon disappear. Recently proposed changes to federal immigration rules would make it harder for families to put food on the table, get medical care when they need it, pay for prescription drugs, and find a safe place to live. [OK Policy]
  • Stop the charge — Support immigrant families in need of services: Last year Restore Hope Ministries prevented 852 of our Tulsa-area neighbors from becoming homeless through our rent assistance program, which is the only option for many Tulsa families. Last month, a deserving family declined our assistance because they fear it will cost them their citizenship. With no other option for help, they were evicted at the end of the month. They’re here legally. They’re working toward citizenship. They’re scared. And now they’re about to be homeless. So why did this family refuse temporary housing assistance? They want to be U.S. citizens. [Rev. Jeff Jaynes / Tulsa World]
  • How Will The Public Charge Rule Impact Employers And Immigrants? On September 22, 2018, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released a notice of proposed rulemaking that could have a dramatic impact on immigrants, temporary visa holders and U.S. employers. If fully implemented, the “public charge rule,” as it is known, could be the most far-reaching immigration policy change made during Donald Trump’s time in office [Forbes].
  • 5 Things To Know About Trump’s New ‘Public Charge’ Immigration Proposal: A proposed rule from the White House would make it harder for legal immigrants to get green cards if they have received certain kinds of public assistance — including Medicaid, food stamps and housing subsidies. Green cards allow them to live and work permanently in the United States. “Those seeking to immigrate to the United States must show they can support themselves financially,” Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said in a statement. The proposal, announced Saturday night, marks a new frontier in the administration’s long-term effort to curb immigration, both legal and illegal [Kaiser Health News].
  • The Health 202: The clock is ticking on stricter ‘public charge’ rules for immigrants: If an immigrant has enrolled in Medicaid or accepted food stamps, it could soon be harder for them to stay in the United States permanently under a new regulation the Trump administration will formally propose today. In a strange reversal from the way new regulations are usually put forward, the Department of Homeland Security released a draft of the rule a few weeks ago but hadn’t yet posted it in the federal register. When that happens today, it will kick off a 60-day public comment period where you can bet doctors and other health advocates will be pushing for DHS to back away from the changes the agency is seeking [Washington Post].


Carly Putnam joined OK Policy in 2013. As Policy Director, she supervises policy research and strategy. She previously worked as an OK Policy intern, and she was OK Policy's health care policy analyst through July 2020. She graduated from the University of Tulsa in 2013. As a student, she was a participant in the National Education for Women (N.E.W.) Leadership Institute and interned with Planned Parenthood. Carly is a graduate of the Oklahoma Center for Nonprofits Nonprofit Management Certification; the Oklahoma Developmental Disabilities Council’s Partners in Policymaking; The Mine, a social entrepreneurship fellowship in Tulsa; and Leadership Tulsa Class 62. She currently serves on the boards of Restore Hope Ministries and The Arc of Oklahoma. In her free time, she enjoys reading, cooking, and doing battle with her hundred year-old house.

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