U.S. citizens who live with undocumented immigrant family members could lose federal housing assistance under a proposed rule from the Trump administration.
Civil rights advocates and several Maryland Democrats warn that the rule proposed Friday by Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson would further the Trump administration’s agenda of curtailing immigrants’ rights and shrinking access to federal assistance.
“I want Secretary Carson to come to Maryland and meet the people who would be harmed by this move – including many American citizens, especially children, in his hometown of Baltimore,” U.S. Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) told Maryland Matters. “This administration needs to understand that their actions have serious consequences.”
The proposed rule change could eliminate financial relief for over 25,000 “mixed”-status households and jeopardize the housing of about 55,000 American children who have an undocumented parent, according to HUD’s analysis.
HUD currently provides public housing and vouchers only to U.S. citizens and legal residents. But mixed status families – those with citizens and undocumented residents — can also apply. The agency then prorates the financial aid based on the number of eligible family members.
HUD estimated the amendment would save $179 million to $210 million to be spent on households with only U.S. citizens and legal residents.
U.S. Rep. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.) is also opposed the proposed change, according to his spokeswoman Jaime Lennon. “It’s designed to continue the administration’s goal of separating families, a policy overwhelmingly rejected by the American public.”
This is not the first time the Trump administration has proposed cutting federal benefits to immigrant communities. White House senior policy adviser Stephen Miller has championed cutting supplemental nutrition assistance, prescription drug subsidies and Section 8 housing vouchers for immigrants.
“Maryland’s immigrant families live, work and pay taxes like everyone else,” said Megan Essaheb, director of immigration advocacy at the nonprofit organization Asian Americans Advancing Justice – AAJC. “HUD’s new proposed rule is yet another example of this administration’s systemic attacks aimed at instilling fear in immigrant communities.”
She said the impact would likely be widespread for the people she serves.
“There are around 250,000 undocumented immigrants in Maryland, around 35,000 of which are Asian. Around 290,000 people in Maryland lived with at least one undocumented family member between 2010 and 2014,” Essaheb said in a statement.
Immigrant communities in Maryland already struggle with housing insecurity as the cost of living soars and hourly wages hover at $10.10, said Julio Murillo, the government relations specialist at CASA de Maryland, an organization serving undocumented immigrants. Cultural, language and education barriers also make obtaining housing difficult for immigrant families.
“This is yet another attack by the Trump’s administration on the immigrant community,” he said. “Housing is a vital cornerstone, and this is going to have a generational negative impact on kids.”
According to the National Low Income Housing Coalition, a minimum wage worker in Maryland would have to work 115 hours a week to afford a two-bedroom home. The state ranks fifth in most expensive two-bedroom rental housing in the country.
Fair Housing Action Center of Maryland Director Shannon Darrow said she is “deeply concerned about the fair housing implications of this policy and its impact on multiple groups that are protected by the Fair Housing Act.”
HUD will be accepting public comments on the change until July 9.
Camille Erickson is a reporter with Medill News Service.
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