US Bishops express concern over new benefit rule

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has expressed concern and opposition to a new ruling that is expected to have negative consequences for families accessing critical public benefits.

The new rule, concerning who in the United States receives public benefits and who does not, was scheduled to be published today, Wednesday, 14 August, but could take another 60 days before being put into effect.

The rule is part of the current US Administration's efforts to curb immigration, and targets those considered 'public charges', or burdens on the system.

According to the new rule, anyone seeking to enter or to remain in the United States, must prove they are self-sufficient and are not reliant on public assistance. Application of the new rule would also mean fewer people being given legal immigrant status.

Bishop Joe S Vásquez of Austin, Chairman of the USCCB Committee on Migration, and Bishop Frank J Dewane, Bishop of Venice, FL, Chairman of the USCCB Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, offered the following statement:

"This rule will undermine family unity and lead many lawful immigrants to forgo vital assistance, including enrolment in nutrition, housing, and medical programs. Families already in the US will be faced with deciding whether to access critical assistance programs for which they qualify, knowing that in doing so they could jeopardise their ability to stay here with their loved ones. And, it will reduce the ability of many to reunify with family in the US We have already seen the culture of fear that the anticipation of this rule has created in our communities. Ultimately, we believe that this rule is in tension with the dignity of the person and the common good that all of us are called to support."

The USCCB also opposed this rule when it was initially proposed by DHS (See: ) and submitted joint comments ( ) with Catholic Charities USA detailing concerns with the rule and urging it be rescinded.

Tags: USCCB, Bishop Joe S Vásquez, Bishop Frank J Dewane, Poverty, Benefits

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