Boston will fight to defend the American Dream

President Trump’s treatment of immigrants is an ongoing tragedy that shocks our conscience and betrays our values. A couple of months ago, he unleashed his latest attack by proposing a regulation change that would deny permanent residency to people who use a wide range of public assistance programs for which they are legally eligible.

These are the kinds of programs that help people break the cycle of poverty and become self-sufficient, like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and the Medicare Part D drug subsidy for low-income seniors. The people this will hurt are mothers getting a little help to feed their children and grandparents seeking basic health care so they can support their families. Tens of thousands of Bostonians — our friends, our neighbors, our coworkers and caretakers, the people who help to keep this city running — could have their American Dreams taken away from them. Many of them could even be deported if their immigration applications are denied. Our city would be weakened, and our hearts broken.

The good news is that this proposed rule has not yet gone into effect. The public has until Monday, December 10 to submit comments, and as of today, almost 140,000 comments have been received. The Department of Homeland Security is required by law to review the comments and address them before publishing the final rule, which would likely take several more months. Even then, it is likely to face legal challenges. If the rule change does take effect, it will only target the use of benefits after the change is made. I want to make that clear, because we also worry that news of this proposal could cause tens of thousands of people in Boston to disenroll from vital programs out of fear or confusion, including many who would not be targeted.

Make no mistake: the City of Boston is doing everything it can to stop this rule change. We’ve conducted a local health and economic impact analysis to show the Trump administration exactly how devastating it would be to our community and our economy. I submitted this impact analysis to the Federal government as a part of my public comment.

Here’s a snapshot: More than 19,000 Boston residents could face deportation. About 6,000 Boston parents could be deported, separating them from their children, many of whom are U.S. citizens. Nearly 6,000 Boston adults could face deportation of a spouse. Families could be forced to choose between keeping their food assistance and healthcare or preserving their chance of obtaining lawful permanent residence. Thousands of students at local colleges and universities could be affected, and Boston employers could lose about 12,000 workers.

So we’re not fooled when Trump tells us that this policy will save us money or make us safer. We know that it would only tear families apart and inject fear and chaos into our neighborhoods. We’re not fooled when Trump tells us that immigrants are untrustworthy. We know that these are the kinds of families who love each other enough, and believe in America enough, to risk everything and come here in the hopes of building a better life. We’re not fooled when Trump tells us that immigrants are dangerous and violent criminals. We know better than that because the data shows us that in most cities, including Boston, violent crime has decreased significantly as our immigrant populations have grown. These are our friends. These are our neighbors. These are the people we are proud to call Bostonians. We will continue to fight this cruel policy.

I encourage anyone who is concerned that this rule would affect them to first contact a trusted immigrant advocacy organization for advice. You can find more information about the proposed rule change and a list of local agencies through our Office for Immigrant Advancement at Boston.gov/Immigrants.

I also encourage anyone who wants to weigh in on this very important issue to submit their own public comment at Regulations.gov. The facts in our local health and economic impact analysis are available for anyone to use. And that’s not the only thing you can do. You can also stand up for immigrants every day by learning about cultures other than your own. Actively stand up to racism. Help us not merely tolerate, but celebrate the incredible diversity that has made our city and our nation great since the very first immigrants arrived hundreds of years ago.

In Boston, we’re not fooled by Trump’s fear mongering. We don’t stand for cruel policies that tear us apart. We must always stand together, united — a city on a hill, built by immigrants, rooted in hope.

Mayor Walsh hosts a rally with immigrant organizations on October 15, 2018 to oppose the proposed changes to the “public charge” provision.