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Opinion

Letters to the Editor: How the anti-immigrant ‘public charge’ rule worsens the coronavirus crisis

Immigrant healthcare
A farm laborer and his family speak to a doctor at a clinic in Fresno in 2014.
(Mark Crosse / MCT)

To the editor: The coronavirus public health crisis is one of the scenarios that immigrant rights advocates feared most when the Department of Homeland Security announced its draconian public charge rule and the U.S. Supreme Court subsequently upheld it. For many families, the risk of an adverse consequence to their immigration case may mean that they do not visit a doctor or, worse, remove themselves from health insurance programs. (“Trump’s tax cuts aren’t enough to address the crisis. We need a viral New Deal,” column, March 9)

My team at the California Immigrant Policy Center anchors the state’s response to public charge. In the weeks leading up to the rule’s implementation, many concerned parents and adult children with elderly parents asked us how they could disenroll from Medi-Cal, Medicare and other programs — not if they should, but how quickly.

In several cases, the enrolled person was a legal permanent resident and the public charge rule did not even apply, but many families feared that the risk of staying enrolled was still too great.

We need a moratorium on the implementation of the public charge rule. Our only chance at mitigating the impact of the current crisis demands that our government and health institutions recognize our shared humanity and value all of us.

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Almas Sayeed, Los Angeles

The writer is deputy director of the California Immigrant Policy Center.


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