The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

“Poor Huddled Masses” Not Welcome

Feb 3, 2020

Last Monday, the Supreme Court gave the go-ahead for new “wealth test” rules for immigrants, overturning nation-wide injunctions. Now, immigrants who are thought to be likely to make even occasional or minor use of public benefits like Medicaid, food stamps and housing vouchers can be denied residency or admission to the United States.

The Trump administration announced in August that it would revise the so-called “public charge rule,” which allows officials to deny green cards to immigrants who are likely to need public assistance. In the past, only substantial and sustained monetary help or long-term institutionalization counted. Fewer than 1% of applicants were disqualified on public-charge grounds.

The revised rule broadens the criteria to include “noncash benefits providing for basic needs such as housing or food” used in any 12 months in a 36-month period. Use of two kinds of benefits in a single month counts as two months, and so on.

In the past, “public charge” never included employed persons who receive modest or temporary amounts of government benefits. Several groups have argued that this will lead to increased malnutrition (especially for pregnant or breastfeeding women, infants and children) and increase contagious diseases, poverty and housing instability. Sara Rosenbaum, a professor at George Washington University, said the new program has “already had a measurable effect on Medicaid enrollment,” adding that “we have documented evidence of people just disappearing off the rolls.”

Many immigrants when they first arrive can only get minimum-wage jobs. Even at full-time, minimum wage is not enough. Also, there is the problem of seasonal work, like in construction and agriculture. A person could be temporarily unemployed or have short hours. If they then applied for food stamps, for example, that could place their immigration status in jeopardy.

Most poor people in the U.S. have jobs. Approximately half of all working adults in the U.S. don’t make enough money to pay taxes.

It is clear that the immigration policy is about letting in people to work, while forcing them to make do with starvation wages!

This policy is upside down. We should not deport the people who do the work. We should deport the heads of corporations that under-pay people. And all the corporations and banks that have gotten government handouts!