Trump uses Medicaid as weapon against disabled immigrants

The writer is a disabled activist in the Medicaid Long-Term Care Program.

Many may recall Trump’s contempt for all things human included making fun of a disabled reporter during his 2016 campaign. On Aug 12, the Trump Administration announced a new rule that would disqualify disabled immigrants from obtaining a green card on the basis of being a “public charge.” 

The rule disqualifies immigrants who receive any public benefits such as Medicaid or food stamps. Those immigrants now receiving benefits who are in the process of obtaining a green card will no longer be able to pursue green card status.

Medicaid is the only program that offers in-home services, such as Long-term Care and Community Choice waiver, where a disabled individual can receive support services such as food preparation, dressing, bathing, shopping and medical transportation. Private insurance does not cover such services. In other words, there is no other way to access such services other than Medicaid or paying entirely out of pocket.

The whole notion that people with disabilities are a public burden and therefore unworthy of obtaining residency must be challenged at its core. The administration’s contempt for disabled people is only matched by its virulent racism and anti-immigrant bigotry.

“We are certainly concerned about the added barriers to care as well as the likelihood that many immigrants–and family members of immigrants–will not seek the services they need out of fear,” explained a member of the New Orleans based Congreso de Jornaleros to Liberation News.

The New Orleans Workers’ Center for Racial Justice released a statement about the public charge rule:

This public charge rule change effectively punishes Black and Brown Louisianians for living in a still-segregated state. In a state where the unemployment rate for Black and Latinx workers far exceeds the rate for white workers, and where the majority of immigrants are Black and Latinx, this rule will predominantly impact people who are structurally disadvantaged and most in need of assistance. 

Immigrants who might not need public assistance if it weren’t for racial barriers to employment could face deportation, and citizens with immigrant family members—who are also disproportionately Black and Latinx—will have their families torn apart while fearing access to select public services. Receiving benefits like Medicaid or housing subsidies shouldn’t hurt a noncitizen’s chance of getting a green card, and immigrants shouldn’t have to choose between benefits and citizenship status. The Trump Administration needs to stop weaponizing social services in order to score political points at the expense of Black and Brown communities.

In the struggle to stop concentration camps for refugees, mass deportation of immigrants and all the ills spewing from the Trump Administration we must build the maximum solidarity including the rights of disabled immigrants. Down with the public charge rule!

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