National WIC Association

Press Release: National WIC Association Condemns Leaked Draft of Rule Targeting Immigrant Families

February 20, 2018

National WIC Association Condemns Leaked Draft of Rule Targeting Immigrant Families
Rev. Greenaway: “The Administration should not punish immigrant families for seeking food assistance.”

Press Contact: Natalie Mulloy

WASHINGTON – On February 8, 2018, media published a leaked draft of a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that suggests the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will expand the definition of public charge to punish immigrants who are using nutrition assistance and public health programs that they are legally permitted to use. Programs like the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) have never before been considered in immigration decisions. The leaked draft is unprecedented and deeply concerning.

Rev. Douglas Greenaway, President and CEO of the National WIC Association (NWA), issued the following statement in response:

“The National WIC Association condemns in the strongest terms the Administration’s plans to target and stigmatize immigrants and their US citizen family members for seeking health care, nutrition and food assistance. Americans do not turn hungry children away from their meal table. It is unprecedented and highly inappropriate to consider a person’s participation in WIC or other vital public health programs in immigration proceedings. The Administration’s plan to include WIC in the definition of public charge has instigated a public health crisis as fearful families are forced to choose between feeding their babies and young children or complying with a broken immigration system.

“Across the country, despite pleas from WIC staff, children are losing access to health care services, mothers are forced to decline crucial breastfeeding support, and families are refusing food assistance. The fear that families feel is real, as they are forced to make devastating choices because of the Administration’s reckless actions.

“NWA seeks to clarify that the leaked documents do not as of yet hold legal weight. DHS has neither formally proposed this rule nor gone through necessary rulemaking procedures. Significant misinformation has been disseminated, stoking the fears of immigrant families – especially through non-English media, social media sites, and ill-informed immigration specialists.

“Let’s be clear: there are no immediate consequences for WIC participants related to public charge. If an immigrant was participating in WIC before the leaked documents, they are still welcome at WIC clinics to receive nutrition and public health assistance.

“NWA will submit comments during the rulemaking period to share our full views and deep disappointment with DHS. The Administration should not punish any family for seeking food assistance because they cannot afford to feed their children. An important measure of who we are as Americans is how we care for the least among us. No one should go hungry or food insecure in the United States of America.”

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