(January 27, 2020) The U.S. Supreme Court issued a dangerous decision today to uphold the Trump Administration’s changes to the “public charge” rule, now making it more difficult for authorized immigrant residents to gain legal visas, permanent residency (green cards) and citizenship.

As a result, if anyone seeking to obtain these immigration documents has received public benefits through Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), to which they are legally entitled, they can jeopardize their legal immigration process. This decision dissuades legally-eligible U.S. residents from seeking and receiving public assistance that helps to clothe, feed and shelter millions of children.

In addition, the high-stakes nature of the rule change imposes a chilling effect that threatens schoolchildren’s enrollment in free and reduced-price lunch programs, SNAP benefits and subsidized healthcare – all of which contribute to the health and safety of our children.

At IDRA, we work to strengthen schools to work for all children, families and communities. We know that every child is valuable. Our nation diminishes the richness of our schools when our government enacts policies that exclude children and families.

Today’s Supreme Court decision disincentivizes eligible families from using necessary public assistance to meet the needs of children. Our schools will have to fill the critical gaps to address children’s hunger, housing insecurity and other needs that affect their learning.

While today’s decision does not bear on Plyler v. Doe, the 1982 decision that affirmed that all students may enroll in public schools regardless of immigration status, it is important to remember that immigrant children have constitutionally-protected access to attend public schools. The federal administration’s rule change and Court decision to uphold it are counter to the spirit and letter of this law which established that no child should be denied public education for fear of implications to their citizenship status.

IDRA calls upon Congress to legislate protections for immigrants to safely access public assistance programs to support their families without fear.

The Intercultural Development Research Association is an independent, non-profit organization, led by Celina Moreno, J.D. Our mission is to achieve equal educational opportunity for every child through strong public schools that prepare all students to access and succeed in college. IDRA strengthens and transforms public education by providing dynamic training; useful research, evaluation, and frameworks for action; timely policy analyses; and innovative materials and programs.