Bill Whitaker

Bill Whitaker

There’s nothing Donald Trump won’t do to attack immigrants. Recently finalized immigration regulations threaten not thousands of families, but millions, and not only at the border, but here in Union County and all over the country. I believe Trump must be stopped, and we must help.

This new front in Trump’s class war puts visas up for auction, telling hardworking families in lower-wage jobs they need not apply. Immigrants who came to the United States with nothing and built better lives are some of the best American success stories. Trump’s plan makes this impossible for all but the already wealthy.

A decade after the recession, things are still tough for many of us. When hard work just isn’t enough, public safety-net programs — from baby food through the WIC Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program to EpiPens through Medicaid or blood pressure medicine through Medicare — help close the gap. 

Trump’s “public charge” regulation proposed last fall and now finalized weaponizes public programs, turning them against immigrants seeking admission to the U.S. or applying for a “green card.” Every doctor’s visit or family meal would put immigration status at risk. And since there is no way to account for which carrots an immigrant parent ate and which ones a U.S.-born child ate, the regulation effectively denies basics like food and housing to whole families.

Conservative estimates peg the regulation’s impact affecting 26 million persons nationwide. That includes the one-fourth of all children in the U.S. — the vast majority born here — who live in immigrant families. It’s hard to overstate the consequences for Oregon, where the rule would affect thousands. As our neighbors lose basics like food, medical care and access to housing, every problem Oregon faces will worsen.

Because it targets immigrants of color, this policy will widen racial disparities on everything from infant mortality to housing stability. The Migration Policy Institute estimated it could affect more than 10 million Latinos and 3.8 million Asian American and Pacific Islander immigrants. In the wake of President Trump’s “s---hole” comment, news media reported an increase in deportations targeting African immigrants.

This is Trump at his worst — threatening working families to rig the game for the rich and drive racists to the polls. The “public charge” policy was crafted by Stephen Miller, architect of Trump’s family separation policy. Like that brutal policy, it’s a dangerous plan that’s ripe for abuse. Public charge has been manipulated before, against Jews and Irish and Italian Catholics. There’s no reason to think Trump won’t abuse it again.

Advocates for immigrant families and state attorneys general are already preparing litigation. But again and again, Trump and Miller have shown they won’t let the law stand in the way of their atrocities. And this isn’t the last wave in Trump’s attacks. He’s already proposed additional regulations targeting immigrant families’ health, incomes, food and homes.

Congress can end the abuse and protect immigrant families, but Congress is not always focused on the issues that matter for real people. So we must join together to tear down Trump’s paperwork wall. Demand that Oregon’s congressional representatives — including our congressman Greg Walden — take action to protect our state’s children and families.

Stopping Trump isn’t enough. Our leaders must also advance policies that create opportunities for all to succeed. A congressionally chartered plan to cut child poverty in half and legislation establishing Medicare for all would make immigrant families — citizen, documented and undocumented family members — eligible for the public programs that can help them build productive lives and also contribute fully to our economy and our communities.

Exclusion, poverty, illness and hunger don’t lead to greatness. We must rise up together to build a country we can be proud of.

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