Earlier this month, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) proposed a rule to require that officials verify the immigration status of individuals in public housing and would also specify “that individuals who are not in eligible immigration status may not serve as the leaseholders.”
What does that mean?
In short, federally subsidized housing benefits would only be available to families in which every member is a citizen or exempted noncitizen, such as a refugee or legal permanent resident. In addition, the rule would revise current regulations so that applicants and recipients of benefits would have their immigration status verified.
House Appropriations Committee Democrats directed their moral outrage with the change at HUD Secretary Ben Carson during a Tuesday budget hearing. They claimed the policy was targeting immigrants and would result in the “eviction” and “separation” of thousands of families while simultaneously throwing American-born children into the streets.
Leading the charge was Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), who insisted the consequence would be to make “55,000 American children homeless,” adding that the “despicable” plan represents “among the most damaging proposals I have ever seen in public policy.
Maloney’s figure is derived from a HUD’s own analysis which estimates 55,000 children live in mixed-status households. Carson, however, responded with a perspective lacking among open borders, pro-amnesty politicians.
“There are hundreds of thousands of children and elderly Americans on waiting lists, do you suggest we prioritize those [illegal aliens]?” asked Carson before being cut off by the congresswoman.
In addition, Carson noted several times during the hearing that mixed-status families would not be thrown onto the street. Instead, the rule provides a six-month deferral if housing cannot be found and it can be extended up to 18 months.
Contrary to partisan puffery of the critics, the rule is based the belief that allowing an illegal alien to receive prorated rent constitutes the granting of a benefit in a way prohibited by Section 214 of the Housing and Community Development Act of 1980, one of the laws making illegal immigrants ineligible for federal welfare funds.
The 1996 welfare reform law also explicitly stated that illegal immigrants are not eligible for “federal public benefits,” which is defined in the law as including public and assisted housing.
It is not the targeting of immigrants, but the restoration of fairness to a system at a time when 4.4 million Americans are patiently waiting for scarce public housing to become available.
That includes the more than 23,000 veterans that HUD estimates have experienced homelessness in 2018 or the 14,566 veterans living in places “not meant for human habitation.”
But that escapes the likes of Maloney and her Democratic colleague from New York, Rep. Nydia Velázquez, who called on the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, and Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies to refuse to spend money on “tearing apart families and throwing 55,000 American kids on the street.”
In a letter to the subcommittee chairs, the pair requests adding a limiting amendment to the FY2020 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations bill to prevent HUD from moving forward with its new rule.
The rule change will not end the problem of homelessness, but for the millions of American families struggling to pay rent, the end of Congress’ HUD-wink is a big deal.