“Public Charge”- What is this?
With the upcoming December 10th deadline to submit a public comment on proposed changes in “Public Charge” qualifications, we have been hearing this term a lot- but what is it? On the most basic level, public charge refers to how likely it is that a person will become a financial burden on the American economy and then works to exclude them from the chance of gaining citizenship. In my perspective, it is an odd thing for our nation to judge individuals on, not only considering the multiple fact-based studies that show the huge over-all economic benefits that immigrants and refugees bring to our country, but also because it just seems kind of counter to our “anyone gets a chance”, “boot strap” values (admittedly spoken from a place of privilege) and the fact that “economic” isn’t the only benefit or measure of value that exists. We currently have some basic federal regulations around this, but these new proposed changes tighten that definition and will directly and indirectly affect many classifications of immigrants and refugees.
SLM put out this statement a couple weeks ago and now the deadline is upon us- only 4 days left. We are encouraging you all to read our statement and use this great toolkit from the International Rescue Committee, as well as this powerful letter from Welcoming America, to draft your own unique and personal statement to submit on or before December 10th. So… full disclosure, I am the one who totally freezes on the line while trying to call my elected officials and then basically sputters non-sense. This idea of a “unique and personal” statement kind of terrifies me. I think the thing that gives me strength is knowing that I will be joining YOU and 132,024 other comments and mine does not have to be perfect, it just has to be from me. So here goes. In hopes to persuade some of the rest of you that might also be balking at this as well, here is my own short and imperfect comment for submission:
I am writing as an individual, but also on behalf of Soft Landing Missoula, a nonprofit organization in Missoula, MT that works with refugee families and started in 2015 as a response to families fleeing and being torn apart by war, terror, and persecution. I am writing to strongly oppose the proposed changes to tighten the definition of “public charge” in relation to immigration status and citizenship criteria. These changes would not only put families in fear of seeking resources to support a healthy family in the relatively short time it takes them to get their feet under them and give so much back to our country both economically and culturally, but it would also seriously impact the ability of immigrants and refugees to be reunited with their families. As a mother, a daughter, and a wife, I believe that there is nothing more important in this whole world than being able to be with your family. This is something that we as Americans so often take for granted but still is revered as the cornerstone of our nation. Family reunification is a real trial that I see daily with refugee families who have landed in Missoula and are trying to find and be reunited with loved ones that were scattered to the wind- sometimes in a matter of minutes and sometimes over years of struggle. This is already an extremely challenging “long shot” for so many families, I can’t imagine making it even more difficult.
It is for this reason and more that I wholeheartedly oppose these proposed changes. This is not what we are about as Americans. I know we are a country that values family and the ability of a person to start with so little and give back tenfold. This is the America I believe in.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
OK! Your turn! Here is the link to the website to submit your comment. You have 4 days to add to the 132,024 comments that have already been submitted. Go get em’!
In love and gratitude,
ED Soft Landing Missoula
December Supper Club!
Join us on December 16th at 5:30 at Masala for Israel food! The chef, Tedesse Gebreslasie is from Eritrea but spent 7 years in Israel as part of his long journey to safety, some of those years working as a professional chef!
Find out more about cost, full menu, and how to join us next Sunday evening here.
Where: Masala, 206 W Main St , MT 59802
When: Sunday, December 16th. Doors at 5:30 pm and dinner at 6:00pm
How: To make a reservation call Masala @ (406) 926-6444.
Please direct any further questions to [email protected]
Volunteer Party at Imagine Nation Brewing- December 9th!
Join us on December 9th for our end of year Volunteer Party to celebrate all you do for Soft Landing and Missoula’s refugees! We are so grateful to have such incredible volunteers and want to personally invite you to enjoy an evening at Imagine Nation Brewing full of raffles, prizes, and awards. The party starts at 5:00, so come grab a drink on us and take a look back at what an incredible year 2018 has been.
We couldn’t do this without you!! Thanks for helping to make Missoula a place we all can call home!
Soft Landing Missoula at the MADE Fair!
We will be at the MADE Fair this Sunday, December 9th from 11am-6pm. While you are shopping, come find us for sweatshirts, t-shirts, totes, stickers and much more for everyone on your holiday list! All of the non-profit booths are located in the hallway of the Main Gym floor. See you there!