NCOA Statement: DHS Rule Will Harm Hundreds of Thousands of Older Legal Immigrants

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Armando Trull

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Public charge rule threatens health, security, and dignity of older communities of color—and will harm non-immigrant seniors, too

Arlington, VA (August 13, 2019) – The following is a statement from James Firman, President and CEO of the National Council on Aging (NCOA), in response to the U.S. Department Homeland Security (DHS) Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds rule scheduled to take effect on October 15, 2019.

“The National Council on Aging is extremely concerned about the effects the new DHS regulation will have on vulnerable older immigrants who are in this country legally, on their caregivers, and on the diverse communities where they reside.

An Impossible Choice Between Well-Being and Status

“Immigrant seniors who have played by the rules will have to make an impossible choice between going hungry and avoiding needed long-term care support or losing their immigration status. This regulation will create a personal and moral hazard for older adults who are looking to age with their families around them. NCOA opposes this harsh and arbitrary rule that is antithetical to the values of a just, caring, and welcoming America.

“We have heard from our community partners that older adult immigrants are already afraid and unwilling to seek participation in public benefits for which they are eligible – and have an intense need for – because they fear repercussions for their family or themselves. Now, we fear a wider range of older adult immigrants will not seek these health care, nutrition, and housing programs that enable them to live independently and with dignity.

Non-Immigrant Seniors Also Will Be Hurt

“This change also will affect the thousands of older adults and caregivers who rely on home health care. One in four home health aides is an immigrant. We know that overwhelmingly people want to age in their own homes, but the proposed rule could threaten the economic security of these low-income workers who sometimes rely on limited public assistance. This could decimate the support needed for America’s aging population to age in place.

A Callous Vision of America

“This change forces families to make an impossible choice between aging well or aging securely with their loved ones. It imposes a callous vision of America and is in stark juxtaposition to NCOA’s vision of a just and caring society where everyone can age with dignity, purpose, and security.

“NCOA is proud to stand with the Protecting Immigrant Families (PIF) campaign on this and other critical issues facing communities of color nationwide.”

About NCOA

The National Council on Aging (NCOA) is a trusted national leader working to ensure that every person can age well. Since 1950, our mission has not changed: Improve the lives of millions of older adults, especially those who are struggling. NCOA empowers people with the best solutions to improve their own health and economic security—and we strengthen government programs that we all depend on as we age. Every year, millions of people use our signature programs BenefitsCheckUp®, My Medicare Matters®, and the Aging Mastery Program® to age well. By offering online tools and collaborating with a nationwide network of partners, NCOA is working to improve the lives of 40 million older adults by 2030. Learn more at ncoa.org and @NCOAging.