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Feinstein, Hirono, Colleagues Introduce Legislation to Block Implementation of Trump Administration’s “Public Charge” Rule

Washington – Today, Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) joined Senator Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawaii) and a group of their Senate Democratic colleagues to introduce the Protect American Values Act – legislation that would prohibit the Trump Administration from using federal funding to implement its so-called “public charge” rule. Scheduled to go into effect on October 15, 2019, the “public charge” rule aims to prevent immigrants from coming to or staying in the United States based on factors such as their wealth, family size, age, skills, level of education, or ability to speak English. 

“The true effect, and therefore, the true intent behind the Administration’s public charge rule is to create a climate of fear among immigrant families, and it’s working. I’ve heard from a number of hardworking, taxpaying immigrants in Hawaii, many not even subject to the rule, who are afraid to see their doctor or access essential services,” Senator Hirono said. “Instead of harming immigrant families seeking a better life, our bill protects them. Our bill keeps families together. And our bill supports the rich diversity that has enabled our country to thrive and excel throughout its history. I’m proud that 26 of my colleagues support this legislation already, and I will continue working towards passing it.” 

“Our country is stronger because we’ve been so open to immigrants who come here to build better lives for themselves and boost our country in the process,” Senator Feinstein said. “They shouldn’t be denied that opportunity because a government official believes they’re not wealthy enough. The administration shouldn’t give immigration officials the ability to discriminate against poor immigrants. That’s not who we are as a country.” 

In addition to Feinstein and Hirono the bill is sponsored by Senators Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Bob Casey (D-Penn.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nevada), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) 

“From threatening to deport children with cancer, to zeroing out refugee admissions, the Trump administration is undermining a fundamental value of this country: that America welcomes everyone regardless of their country of origin,” Senator Markey said. “Immigrants helped build this great nation. We must take a stand against these cruel and inhumane policies at every turn. Federal funds should not use to implement a policy that’s sole purpose is to punish vulnerable immigrants and their families.”  

“This administration is deliberately punishing people who are trying to build a better life by forcing them to choose between meeting their basic needs and being able to live in this country. It’s cruel, and it runs counter to everything our country stands for,” Senator Harris said. “I’m proud to co-sponsor the Protect American Values Act because it stops this administration from eroding our values. Simply put, we should be looking out for our neighbors, not vilifying them for political gain.” 

“President Trump’s new rule isn’t about keeping our borders secure or more efficient government spending – it’s about starving children to advance a xenophobic anti-immigrant agenda,” Senator Blumenthal said. “This deeply cruel policy is despicable. This rule betrays basic American values, promoting an antiquated ‘pull yourself up your bootstraps’ mentality, even as Ken Cuccinelli steals the boots right off your feet.” 

“President Trump’s proposed public charge rule is further proof that the goal of his immigration agenda is not to fix our broken system, but to inflict needless cruelty upon immigrants in our communities,” Senator Murray said. “I’m proud to join Senator Hirono and my Democratic colleagues in introducing legislation to oppose this callous move, and I will continue fighting to protect families in Washington state and across the country against this short-sighted, heartless rule.” 

“As someone who grew up in poverty, relying on food stamps to survive, I’m appalled by the Trump Administration’s cruel, heartless and un-American ‘public charge’ rule,” Senator Duckworth said. “My mother is an immigrant and if this proposal had been in place then, my family might have had to choose between getting her citizenship or going hungry. I’m proud to join my colleagues as we fight this dangerous policy from taking place.” 

“President’s Trump latest effort to punish legal immigrants goes against the values and traditions of our great nation,” Senator Cardin said. “The government should not penalize legal immigrants by forcing them to choose between their family’s health and safety and becoming American citizens.  I am proud to join in cosponsoring this legislation to overturn this cruel and counterproductive policy.” 

“It’s despicable that the Trump Administration wants to punish immigrants who only seek to make a better life for their families and themselves,” Senator Brown said. “This Administration’s hostility toward immigrants proves they don’t understand the values that make us stronger.” 

“Since coming to office, President Trump has waged an all-out assault on America’s immigrant tradition. From separating children at the border, to seizing parents in school parking lots—the administration has made a policy of cruelty,” Senator Bennet said. “The so-called ‘public charge’ rule is the administration’s latest example, stoking fear in immigrant communities and forcing people to make an impossible choice between the health and well-being of their families and their future immigration status. Our bill sends a clear message that we will not stand for yet another blatant attack on immigrant communities.” 

“The Trump administration’s public charge rule punishes immigrant families by discouraging them from getting food, health care, or housing assistance and makes it harder for them to become U.S. citizens, all in an effort to blame our country’s problems on people who don’t look, speak, or pray the same way,” Senator Warren said. “The Protect American Values Act reverses this harmful policy and protects immigrant families -- because everyone deserves to succeed no matter where they’re from.” 

“This Administration’s plan to limit legal immigration based on an applicant’s wealth is entirely un-American,” Senator Durbin said. “Penalizing immigrants living here legally will do nothing to fix the situation at our border and will only sow fear and distrust in immigrant communities across the U.S.  I’m proud to join my colleagues in introducing this important legislation.” 

“Donald Trump’s approach to immigration can best be summed up as cruelty for cruelty’s sake. The so-called ‘public charge’ rule is no different,” Senator Wyden said. “Our taxpayer dollars shouldn’t pay to drive people further into the shadows, and they shouldn’t pay to force families to choose between the things they need and the people they love. Full stop.” 

“Trump’s latest move to restrict LEGAL immigration punishes immigrants eligible for green cards and other visas for not being wealthy.  This rule will force immigrants to choose between pursuing legal residency or weathering tough times.   Frightening people away from critical resources will compromise families and communities across our country, it’s cruel and un-American,” Senator Menendez said. The Protect American Values Act will stop the Trump Administration from unilaterally reshaping our legal immigration system. Immigrants aspiring to become legal residents should be judged on their efforts and contributions to our country, not by the color of their skin or how much money they have in their bank account.”