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Delaware officials say new immigration proposal could scare Delaware families from seeking help


(Delaware Public Media) – State officials say proposed changes to eligibility requirements for immigrants applying for legal permanent residency may drive some people further into the shadows.

The federal government can deny immigrants legal residency if it believes they may need future government assistance.

The current public charge test only counts cash assistance and long-term institutional care against an applicant. But the proposed new rule adds non-emergency Medicaid, food stamps, housing assistance and use of a Medicare subsidy. Adding government health insurance for children known as CHIP to the proposed rule change is also being considered.

Delaware Health and Social Services Secretary Kara Odom Walker said she’s worried the proposal will stop families from seeking government services.

“Do we want kids who have parents who are undocumented potentially going hungry because they aren’t able to access nutrition support in their communities,” she said. “I mean those are the kind of questions we are facing.”

Odom Walker said she’s seen previous immigration policy decisions announced by the Trump administration scare families away from services.

“When the Trump administration travel ban was issued, we saw a decrease in the number of families who were accessing SNAP benefits and Medicaid because they were worried about their information being shared,” she said.

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