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November 14, 2019

 

Farm Workforce Modernization Act Introduced

            On October 30, Reps. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) and Dan Newhouse (R-WA), introduced the “Farm Workforce Modernization Act of 2019.” This bipartisan legislation, H.R. 5038,  was the result of complex negotiations between members of Congress, farmworker advocates, including the UFW, UFW Foundation, and Farmworker Justice, and agricultural employer organizations.   

Of utmost importance, the legislation would recognize the important contributions of farmworkers to our nation's food and agriculture systems. It would eliminate the constant fear of deportation by enabling hundreds of thousands of farmworkers and their immediate family members to obtain a lawful immigration status and a pathway to citizenship. At least half of the nation’s roughly 2.4 million farmworkers are undocumented immigrants. With legal status and a path to citizenship, farmworkers would be better able to improve their wages and working conditions and challenge serious labor abuses. This would result in a more stable farm labor force, and greater food safety and security to the benefit of employers, workers, and consumers.

The bill also would revise the existing H-2A visa program to address some farm worker and employer concerns with the program. Farmworker advocates have pressed for reforms to reduce widespread abuses under this flawed program, while agricultural employers have lobbied heavily to remove most of its modest labor protections. The compromise codifies many of the existing protections in the program and includes some important new protections for farmworkers, but also contains various difficult concessions that were made in order to reach a bi-partisan agreement. Because the bill, if passed, would improve significantly the lives of hundreds of thousands of farmworkers and their family members, Farmworker Justice supports the Farm Workforce Modernization Act of 2019.  We urge you to contact your Members of Congress and ask them to support the bill.

DACA Goes to the Supreme Court

            On November 12, the fate of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) was heard in the Supreme Court. Farmworker Justice stands with all recipients of DACA and joined an amicus brief challenging the Trump administration’s rescissions of the program and highlighting the DACA enrollee’s reliance interest in the DACA program.

November 21 Appropriations Deadline Approaching

November 21 marks the deadline for the current continuing budget resolution, which was passed at the end of September.  According to reports, Congress is expected to extend the deadline for another month, until approximately Dec. 20.

DOL Releases Fourth Quarter H-2A Data

The Department of Labor (DOL) recently released 2019 fourth quarter data on the H-2A program. The program’s growth continues, with an increase of 10.8%, bringing the H-2A program to a record 257,666 worker positions certified for FY 2019. Another noticeable change was that California now sits as one of the top four H-2A program users, beating out North Carolina, which previously held the fourth spot, by nearly 2,000 workers. The top states in descending order are Florida, Georgia, Washington, California, and North Carolina. As always, very few applications were denied. This year saw only 57 denials of the 1,974 applications submitted.

Article Highlights Lack of Overtime Pay for Farmworkers

On November 6, Civil Eats released an article highlighting the exclusion of farmworkers from overtime pay under federal law. The article notes that some states are beginning to address the discrimination farmworkers face in access to overtime pay. New York and California have both passed legislation through their state legislatures that establishes overtime pay protections for farmworkers, with California phasing in overtime pay after 40 hours a week and New York providing for overtime pay after 60 hours per week. In Washington state, a class action brought by farmworkers is challenging the exclusion of farmworkers from overtime pay as unconstitutional. The court held oral arguments on October 24th and a decision is expected in the next 4-6 months. As noted by Columbia Legal Service’s Lori Isley, “Excluding farmworkers who are doing some of the most dangerous work in our state violates their fundamental rights.”  

Meanwhile, at the federal level, Sen. Kamala Harris and Rep. Raul Grijavala re- introduced “The Fairness for Farmworkers Act,” H.R. 1080, earlier this year. Farmworker Justice supports this bill.  

Workers’ Rights Advocates Look to Chobani to Improve Dairy Farm Conditions

            On November 5, Forbes wrote about the conditions on dairy farms and the attempts to bring the yogurt company Chobani into efforts to improve labor rights for dairy workers. Dairy workers experience dangerous conditions on the job with long hours, low pay and few benefits, and no access to protections such as overtime pay (unless, as noted above, farmworkers are in one of the few states that provide any overtime protections to farmworkers). Organizers in New York are attempting to unionize workers to improve conditions, and they are hoping that Chobani, as a large buyer of dairy products, will step in to demand better conditions on the farms from which they purchase products. Chobani entered into an agreement with Fair Trade USA to address issues regarding dairy farmworkers, but the unions criticized the FTUSA system as weak on worker empowerment.  Separately, Chobani demurred on getting directly involved in New York state politics to help pass the farmworker labor law (S.6578) that was passed last session, but they are in the process of rolling out their Milk Matters plan by 2025, which includes workers’ rights.   

El Salvador TPS Holders Receive One Year Work Visa Extension

Temporary Protected Status (TPS) is granted to individuals from a country where it is temporarily unsafe for them to return for reasons such as natural disaster or war. Following action by the Trump administration to end TPS status for many countries, despite ongoing safety issues in the countries, the administration was enjoined in October 2018 from ending TPS for El Salvador, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Sudan. Following that, USCIS published a notice earlier this year with plans to follow the court order but still end the program for the above countries.      

On October 28, El Salvador and the U.S. announced an agreement regarding TPS holders in the United States. The U.S. will extend TPS status for those from El Salvador for one year, moving the ending deadline to January 2, 2021. Other countries including Haiti, Sudan, Honduras, Nepal, and Nicaragua are also currently protected until 2021, but that protection could end as soon as six months after the abovementioned injunction is lifted if the administration wins the pending court case.   

 

Update on Farmworker Health and Safety

EPA Announces Proposed Changes to the AEZ  

            On November 1, the EPA published a proposal to reduce the Application Exclusion Zone (AEZ), which is a buffer zone around pesticide applications meant to help avoid human contact, either directly or through drift. The proposed rule would restrict the AEZ to just within the farm owner’s property as well as exempt certain individuals, such as the farm owner’s family members and easement workers, from certain AEZ protections. This change puts workers and bystanders at increased risk. Fields are often close to each other or to public areas, and refusing to acknowledge that workers and others can be close by while not strictly on the property being sprayed, will likely lead to increased exposures.

California Fires Disrupt and Endanger Farmworkers

            In late October, a wildfire started in Sonoma County leaving hundreds of farmworkers without homes and wages. The large wildfires growing increasingly common in California are also endangering farmworkers’ health. The advice given to residents during times of high smoke is to remain indoors and limit exertion, but that is almost impossible when the work is in the fields lifting heavy boxes of grapes and other agricultural products. California failed to pass a smoke protection act in the previous session, but the state did put in emergency protections in July. These protections require an employer to check the air quality before and during work, and if it rises above a certain threshold the employer must either move the workers or provide smoke masks. However, the masks make breathing difficult. After the fire erupted, officials allowed growers to harvest the last of their grapes. Advocates worried that farmworkers, who are mainly Spanish speakers, were not receiving adequate safety information. Earlier this year, Senator Merkley introduced the federal Farmworker Smoke Protection Act of 2019 (S. 1815), which would provide protections to farmworkers in such emergencies. Farmworker Justice supports this bill.      

The Department of State Released a Proposed Rulemaking on Public Charge

            On October 10, the Department of State (DOS) published an interim final rule to align the requirements on U.S. foreign consulates with those finalized by Department of Homeland Security (DHS) earlier this year. The DHS rule is currently enjoined, but that ruling does not directly affect this rulemaking. DOS revised its Foreign Affairs Manual last year, and it does not appear that the agency has plans to repeal those changes in favor of this new rule. Farmworker Justice submitted comments.

ACA Health Insurance Open Enrollment

            Open enrollment for 2020 health insurance coverage through the ACA marketplaces opened on November 1 and runs through December 15 in most states. Lawfully present farmworkers, including H-2A workers and their families are eligible to enroll in health insurance coverage through the marketplace and for tax credits and cost-sharing reductions to reduce their monthly premiums and co-pays. While there is no longer a federal tax penalty for those who do not have health insurance, some states do have a tax penalty in effect. For more information about health insurance options, go to healthcare.gov or your state’s marketplace website. Materials for farmworkers on the ACA can be found on FJ’s website. We also encourage you to reach out to your local health center where there are certified enrollment assisters who can help enroll interested farmworkers.

October 24, 2019

 

H-2A International Recruitment Fraud Puts Workers into Debt

Under the H-2A temporary agricultural worker visa program, it is unlawful for recruiters to charge recruitment fees to workers. Nevertheless, it is all too common for recruiters in the H-2A program to charge workers high fees in exchange for connecting them with potential employment in the United States. Moreover, fraud and misrepresentation are also common problems, with workers facing scams and costs associated with employment opportunities that never materialize. Last January, more than a hundred people in Guatemala fell victim to one such scam, paying thousands of dollars over a year, only to arrive at the U.S. Embassy and find out they had been scammed. The fraud and other abuses in the H-2A program are particularly significant as the U.S. government has sought to promote the H-2A program in response to the migration crisis in Guatemala. Essentially, the U.S. government is taking steps to funnel potential migrants into the exploitative worker-2A program, rather than addressing the humanitarian crisis causing individuals to flee their home countries and ensuring our asylum and refugee systems work as they are intended to. The H-2A program is not an immigration program- it is a temporary visa program with no path to immigration status or citizenship. The H-2A program is a flawed and abusive program and will not help migrants seeking to build a stable life in a safe country away from persecution. 

California Law Creates Opportunities for More Farmworker Housing

On October 7, California Governor Newsom signed AB 1783 into law. The new law sets forth standards and resources to build new farmworker housing in rural communities. The law has two parts. First, it subsidizes farmers who build housing on their land. The housing will be run by a third party and must remain affordable for 35 years. The second part of the law prohibits the funds from being used to build dormitory housing, which is the type of housing often favored by employers to house H-2A workers. H-2A workers can use the new housing units, but the style of housing must not emulate that of a bunkhouse. Agricultural producers oppose the new law. Meanwhile, worker advocates believe that more housing could help ease the housing shortage currently plaguing rural America.

November Appropriations Deadline Approaching as Funding Deal Remains Elusive

November 21 marks the deadline for when the continuing resolution passed at the end of September, which extends funding for FY 2019, is set to end. Congress must either pass another continuing resolution or a budget for FY 2020 by that date. Farmworker Justice continues to monitor the appropriations process given our concern about a harmful rider on the House FY 2020 DHS appropriations bill, which would expand the H-2A program to year round agricultural employment.  As of today, no funding agreements have been made public.  

DACA Recipients Encouraged to Renew Status before Supreme Court Hearing

On November 12, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear whether DACA will continue protecting individuals who came to the U.S. as children. Advocates strongly encourage  individuals to renew their status as soon as possible to make sure they are better protected from a potentially adverse Supreme Court decision. Farmworker Justice joined other advocates in an amicus brief submitted to the Supreme Court supporting DACA recipients.

Former Acting DHS Head McAleenan Departs Agency

On October 11, Acting Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Kevin McAleenan announced his resignation. McAleenan never received Senate confirmation after he assumed the position following former DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen’s departure in April 2019.  During his tenure as Acting Secretary, McAleenan implemented some of President Trump’s most hardline policies including reducing the number of migrants allowed in the country through the remain in Mexico policy, allowing a historically low number of refugees into the country, rolling out the public charge rule, and ending the policy of releasing immigrant families from detention into the U.S. McAleenan tried to distance himself from President Trump’s policies even as the agency he oversaw implemented them. Acting U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Director Ken Cuccinelli is the leading candidate to take over the position. Cuccinelli recently made national news by suggesting that the famous poem found on the Statute of Liberty was intended to mean that only immigrants who can “stand on your own two feet” are welcome into the United States.

 

Update on Farmworker Health and Safety

Several Courts Issue Injunctions Stopping Implementation of Public Charge Rule  

The Trump administration’s final public charge rule is currently prohibited from implementation as a result of litigation. The rule was slated to go into effect on October 15, but on October 11, three injunctions went into effect across the country, followed by two more the following week.

The first nationwide injunction came from the Southern District of New York on October 11. The plaintiffs in that case are five organizations that work to aid immigrants, as well as the governments of New York, New York City, Connecticut, and Vermont. The same day, a U.S. District Court in Washington also granted a nationwide injunction. The plaintiffs in that case are Washington and 13 other states: Virginia, Colorado, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, and Rhode Island.

Also on October 11, a judge in California issued a more limited injunction applicable to San Francisco city and county, Santa Clara county, California, Oregon, the District of Columbia, Maine, and Pennsylvania, or to anyone who is part of a household that includes a person from those areas. Farmworker Justice was one of the plaintiffs in this action. Overall, the case included three different actions including several advocacy organizations and government entities.

Soon after, on October 15, an Illinois federal judge issued a similarly limited preliminary injunction, applicable only in Illinois, while a judge in Maryland issued another nationwide injunction on the rule.

Given that several of the injunctions issued have nationwide applicability, the public charge rule cannot currently be implemented anywhere in the country, unless and until the nationwide injunction is lifted. For a summary of the final public charge rule and its potential impact on farmworkers, please visit our website.

State Department Issues Related Public Charge Rule

Meanwhile, also on October 11, the State Department issued a proposed rule on public charge, meant to provide guidance to consular offices around the world about how to implement the DHS public charge rule discussed above. The State Department public charge rule will impose the same factors on immigrants applying to enter the U.S., aligning the State Department’s definition of public charge with the DHS public charge rule. Comments on this proposed rule are due November 12.

President Trump Issues a Proclamation Requiring Health Insurance to Enter the Country

On October 4, President Trump issued a presidential proclamation stating that starting November 4, 2019 individuals seeking to immigrate to the U.S., who do not have health insurance or the ability to pay their medical bills, will be denied entry. Farmworker Justice does not believe that it will affect H-2A workers or other nonimmigrant visa applicants.    

California Reaches Agreement Banning the Sale and Use of Chlorpyrifos

Starting on February 6, 2020 chlorpyrifos will no longer be available for sale in California. Corteva Agriscience (Dow Dupont’s agricultural division), which is the maker of chlorpyrifos, recently reached an agreement with the state of California, in which the company agreed that they will no longer sell the pesticide in the state. Growers will no longer be able to possess or use the chemical as of December 31, 2020. Chlorpyrifos has been linked to brain damage in children while also raising environmental justice concerns as it mainly effects disadvantaged communities. After the California agreement became public, New York advocates reiterated their call for Governor Cuomo to finally sign a bill passed in the New York legislature this past session that would ban chlorpyrifos in the state. As of today, Gov. Cuomo still has not signed the bill. In 2018, Hawaii became the first state to pass legislation banning chlorpyrifos  at the state level.  FJ is currently involved in litigation against the EPA seeking a federal chlorpyrifos ban, in accordance with the agency’s own science regarding the chemical’s toxicity.

EPA Issues Draft Risk Assessments for Paraquat

On October 15, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced its draft risk assessments regarding Paraquat, an herbicide. In the past, scientific and health organizations have raised concerns that use of Paraquat may be linked to Parkinson’s Disease. However, in its draft risk assessment, the EPA claims that if the applicator follows the label instructions, such a risk does not exist. The risk assessment is currently open for comments, with a deadline of December 16. Earlier this year, Rep. Velazquez (D-NY) introduced “The Protect Against Paraquat Act of 2019,” H.R. 3817, which would ban the sale and use of Paraquat. FJ supports this bill.

EPA Creates Guide to Aid Translation of Pesticide Labels

On October 17, EPA announced a new guide to help manufacturers and individuals translate pesticide labels into Spanish. EPA regulations only require English labeling, but many of the individuals applying or working around pesticides are Spanish speakers. Farmworker Justice and other advocates have petitioned the EPA for years to require Spanish-language labels. While manufacturers are still not required to put Spanish labeling on their products, this guide provides a helpful tool for improving worker safety.  

Texas Has the Highest Rate of Heat Related Workplace Deaths in the Country, but the State Continues to Have No Heat Stress Protections for Workers

A recently published article in GateHouse Texas recounts a tragic incident that occurred in July 2017, when a man in his mid-twenties collapsed and later died while working on an excessively hot day. Earlier, his supervisor had denied him permission to go home even after the worker made clear that he felt ill. Texas has more heat related deaths in the workplace than any other state, but, like most states across the country, does not have adequate protections for workers against heat stress. At the federal level, OSHA has also failed to implement heat stress standards to protect workers despite calls from advocates. Meanwhile, people are dying as they work without breaks, water, and shade on hot days that will only get worse as the planet gets hotter. Representative Judy Chu’s (D-CA) bill, “The Asuncion Valdivia Heat Illness and Fatality Prevention Act of 2019” H.R. 3668, which directs OSHA to institute protections for workers from heat stress was introduced a few months ago in the House. FJ supports this bill.

October 24, 2019

Farmworker Justice and Other Advocates Submitted Comments to the DOL Regarding Proposed H-2A Program Changes

           On September 24, Farmworker Justice and many other organizations and advocates responded to the Department of Labor’s (DOL) published request for comments to proposed changes to the H-2A temporary foreign agricultural worker program (the notice published in the Federal Register in July). The DOL proposed many changes to the H-2A program, including a new calculation for wage rates, shifting some transportation costs to workers, expanding the program to pine straw and reforestation workers, weakening recruitment requirements for U.S. workers and allowing employer applications with staggered entry dates for guestworkers, among many other proposed changes.

Office of Foreign Labor Certification (OFLC) Released H-2A Quarterly Report

            OFLC’s third quarter report on the H-2A program is now available. While the FY 2018-’19 growth rate for the third quarter was slower than that from FY 2017-’18, DOL still certified a record 82,776 H-2A workers for this quarter. Theories for the slowing growth rate of the program include that use of the program is maturing and that this was a particularly tough harvest year.   

DOL Released Final Rule on Their Proposal to Switch From Newspapers to Online Recruitment

On September 20, DOL published its final rule on modernizing recruitment requirements in the Federal Register. In order to qualify for H-2A workers, an employer must demonstrate that no U.S. workers are available for the job, and as part of this process, DOL has certain recruitment requirement that employers must fulfill. The new rule switches from a requirement that employers advertise available positions in a newspaper to an electronic system managed by DOL. The agency will publish employer job notices on their new online system, SeasonalJobs.dol.gov. The agency will also instruct state workforce agencies to pass the job openings to organizations that provide employment and training services to workers who are likely to apply for the jobs, and/or to place written notices at physical locations where such workers are likely to gather. A concern with the new requirement is that U.S. workers may not know about the online system, so the DOL must reach out to the farmworker communities letting them know of the change. The rule will go into effect on October 21.

Senate Confirmed Anti-Worker Secretary of Labor

            On September 26, the Senate confirmed a new Secretary of Labor, Eugene Scalia. He has come under fire throughout his confirmation process for being pro-business and anti-worker. He has a history as an attorney representing companies seeking to avoid liability for violating employment and health and safety laws and seeking to minimize the protections under those laws. An agency intended to protect workers is now directed by an individual with a commitment to business’s positions regarding employment at the expense of workers’ law. The Senate confirmed Scalia on a 53-44 vote.   

A Federal Judge Put a Temporary Stay on a DOL Ordered 50% Wage Increase for Blueberry Pickers

On September 5, a federal judge blocked a wage increase that had been ordered by the DOL for Washington blueberry pickers. The employees at Zirkle farm were to receive a wage increase from 50 to 75 cents per pound. Zirkle sued in the U.S. Court of Eastern Washington, claiming that the wage increase was too much of a burden, and it would have to leave blueberries in the field and eliminate hand picking from future harvests, which would put farmworkers out of work. The injunction will stay in place until the conclusion of the trial. 

  

Update on Farmworker Health and Safety

After Years of Decreased USDA Oversight, Rural Public Housing is Falling Apart

On September 23, NBC News released a story detailing the crumbling conditions of the Okeechobee Center in Belle Glade, Florida. The public housing is meant for farmworkers and falls under USDA jurisdiction. However, the building is in decrepit condition with mold, holes in the walls and ceilings, and insects and rodent infestations. Over the years, USDA oversight has loosened as priorities and resources shifted away from the housing inspection program. The property managers submitted a plan earlier this year to the agency on how they would improve the conditions, but part of the plan included a rent increase on the residents. Farmworkers put food on America’s table and deserve to have safe, clean housing for themselves and their families.   

Pesticide Exposure Makes Around One Hundred Workers Sick in California Fields

            This June, around 100 California farmworkers were exposed to pesticides in two separate incidents. While the number of affected workers is high, what is even more troubling is the ongoing fear that workers feel. When they are exposed, many workers feel that they will die, and they worry that the effects will be permanent. In California, safety policy enforcement is up to the counties, and incidents rates are going up. There was a 10% increase from 2014 to 2015 as the latest published numbers.

Latest News

October 30, 2019

Farmworker Justice Statement on House Agricultural Immigration Reform Bill

(Washington, DC)   Today, Reps. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) and Dan Newhouse (R-WA), introduced the “Farm Workforce Modernization Act of 2019.”  This bipartisan legislation was the result of complex negotiations between members of Congress, farmworker advocates, including the UFW, UFW Foundation, and Farmworker Justice, and agricultural employer organizations.

September 27, 2019

On September 24, Farmworker Justice, on behalf of 42 organizations, submitted to the US Department of Labor a 165-page comment and numerous exhibits responding to the DOL’s proposed changes to the H-2A temporary foreign agricultural worker program. 

            Farmworker Justice staff coordinated the comment process and, with several farmworker advocacy groups around the country, co-wrote and edited the detailed comment.  We also drafted shorter model comments which many farmworker-supporting organizations used to write their own comments.

August 16, 2019

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                            Farmworker Justice, Washington, D.C.

August 16, 2019

CONTACT

Bruce Goldstein, Farmworker Justice 202-800-2521 [email protected]

National Immigration Law Center: Hayley Burgess, 202-384-1279, [email protected]

Western Center on Law & Poverty: Courtney McKinney, 214-395-2755, [email protected]

Asian Americans Advancing Justice - Los Angeles: Alison Vu, [email protected]

Federal Lawsuit Filed to Overturn Trump “Public Charge” Immigration Regulation

Low-Wage Agricultural Workers and Family Members Will Be Among the Victims

SAN FRANCISCO — Organizations serving immigrant communities and advocates for racial equity, health, children, farmworkers, and working families today filed suit to block implementation of the Trump administration’s “public charge” regulation, which threatens millions of immigrant families — disproportionally families of color.

Farmworker Justice of Washington, D.C. is a plaintiff in the lawsuit, which is entitled La Clínica de la Raza et al. v. Trump et al., filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.  The lawsuit asks the court to declare the regulation issued by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) unlawful and unconstitutional. DHS finalized the regulation on August 14, 2019.

“Farmworkers and other low-wage immigrant workers will be disproportionately harmed by this rule. Farmworkers perform honorable, difficult work but their wages are among the lowest of any occupation and their poverty rates are substantially higher than the national average,” said Bruce Goldstein, President of Farmworker Justice.  “This cruel policy change will unfairly deny hard-working farmworkers and their family members the opportunity to become immigrants and citizens,” he said.  He added, “In addition, the rule’s discrimination against people who use public programs for which they are eligible based on their low-wages will cause them to avoid such programs, harming their families’ health and nutrition.” 

In addition to Farmworker Justice, the suit was brought by La Clínica de la Raza, African Communities Together, the California Primary Care Association, the Central American Resource Center, the Council on American Islamic Relations - California, the Korean Resource Center, the Legal Aid Society of San Mateo County, and Maternal and Child Health Access.

The plaintiffs are represented by the National Immigration Law Center, Asian Americans Advancing Justice - Los Angeles, the National Health Law Program and the Western Center on Law and Poverty.

Plaintiffs assert that the regulation violates the Administrative Procedure Act because it is contrary to law and arbitrary and capricious. The complaint also argues that the regulation is invalid because the official who approved its publication, Kenneth T. Cuccinelli, was appointed in violation of the Constitution’s Appointments Clause and the Federal Vacancies Reform Act. 

In addition, the complaint argues that the regulation was motivated by racial bias against nonwhite immigrants and asks the court to strike it down as a violation of Equal Protection under the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.   The large majority of agricultural workers in the United States are Latino and the large majority are immigrants, mostly from Mexico.  As indicators of a motivating racial animus, the complaint cites the administration’s acknowledgement that the policy will have a disparate impact on families of color, President Donald Trump’s own racist statements, and his administration’s other racially-biased policies.

“This rule change is a direct attack on communities of color and their families, and furthers this administration’s desire to make this country work primarily for the wealthy and white. Our immigration system cannot be based on the racial animosities of this administration, or whether or not people are wealthy,” said Antionette Dozier, senior attorney at the Western Center on Law and Poverty.

More than 260,000 public comments were submitted on the draft regulation last fall, the vast majority in opposition. The regulation targets programs that serve whole families — Medicaid, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, and Section 8 housing assistance — meaning its impact will extend well beyond immigrants directly affected. As a result, experts warn, the regulation will result in increases in hunger, unmet health and housing needs, and poverty. Because affected immigrants are overwhelmingly immigrants of color, the rule is also expected to widen racial disparities. Independent analysts estimate that the regulation threatens millions of people. A significant portion of those threatened by the regulation were born in the U.S., and nearly a third of those are children.

The complaint asserts that the public charge regulation threatens the missions of the plaintiff organizations and the communities they serve.

“The Trump administration has deliberately designed this policy to target families of color, which is part of its overall blueprint to change the face of what we look like as a nation and who is considered worthy of being an American. It threatens immigrants of color with exclusion and Americans of color with deprivation or family separation. And it aims to deny working-class immigrants of color the ability to thrive in the land of opportunity,” said Marielena Hincapié, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center. “We will not stand for it. We’re fighting back against this racist policy, and we’re going to win the fight to protect immigrant families.”

Today’s filing is available at https://www.nilc.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/Clinica-de-la-Raza-v-Trump-complaint-2019-08-16.pdf.