National WIC Association

Press Statement: NWA Submits Comments Opposing Public Charge Proposal

December 7, 2018

An earlier version of this post included text that was not relevant and labels that were inconsistent with other posts. NWA sincerely regrets this error and has taken steps to correct the improper actions of the staffer who made the original post.

For immediate release

National WIC Association Submits Comments Opposing Public Charge Proposal Targeting Nutrition Assistance and Health Access for Immigrant Families

Rev. Greenaway: ‘Any proposal that deprives parents of access to healthcare and snatches food from the mouths of children is contrary to American values.’

WASHINGTON, D.C. The National WIC Association (NWA) is speaking out against a proposed regulation that would expand the public charge test for people applying for legal residency or entry to the United States with the submission of its official organizational comments. In October, the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) proposed the regulation, which would penalize immigrants who access a wide range of public assistance programs, including Medicaid and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). NWA submitted its comments December 6, during the public comment period, which ends December 10.

Rev. Douglas Greenaway, President and CEO of the National WIC Association, offers the following response:

“Earlier today, the National WIC Association submitted a comment to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, formally joining the chorus of opposition to the Administration’s draconian public charge proposal, which penalizes immigrants for accessing public benefit programs like Medicaid and SNAP. Any proposal that deprives parents of access to healthcare and snatches food from the mouths of children is contrary to American values.

“At its core, the public charge proposal is the Administration’s latest attempt to choose who is worthy of government assistance. Nearly half of all births in the United States are covered by Medicaid, but the Administration’s proposal would punish immigrant women for accessing the vital prenatal services and postpartum care covered by one of the largest benefit programs in the country. Changes to public charge would force immigrant families – many with U.S. citizen children – to turn away the lifeline offered by public assistance programs to obtain the long-term security afforded by a green card.

“While WIC is not included in the proposed rule, the draft is sufficiently vague that families continue to express fear when accessing WIC services. WIC is a targeted and time-limited investment that ensures healthy babies and long-term, positive child development. There is absolutely no reason that the Administration should permit consideration of WIC in immigration decisions, and the current draft is insufficient to reassure concerned families.

“Instead, the Administration seems deliberately indifferent to the consequences for pregnant women and infants. The proposed rule readily admits that pregnant women, breastfeeding women, infants, and children will face worse health outcomes. As the nation faces staggeringly high maternal death rates, the Administration should explore new measures to support maternal health and child development instead of intimidating pregnant women off of Medicaid.

“Let’s remember that one in four children living in the United States has an immigrant parent. If we are to invest in our future, we must start with ensuring that children have access to medical services, a full grocery basket of foods, and a roof over their heads. The National WIC Association implores the Administration to reconsider this ill-advised proposal.”

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