The Trump administration has proposed a rule designed to purge undocumented immigrants from public housing. But according to analysis from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the rule could have the effect of displacing more than 55,000 children who are all legal citizens or residents of the United States.
HUD Secretary Ben Carson has described the proposed rule, which is being aggressively pushed by White House Senior Policy Adviser Stephen Miller, as a way to “make certain our scarce public resources help those who are legally entitled to it.” However, HUD’s analysis indicates that about half of the people in households that are facing possible eviction or homelessness are children who are legally qualified for help.
In the U.S., current rules forbid undocumented immigrants from directly receiving federal housing assistance. But families that have mixed immigration status are eligible.
An undocumented single man or single woman is not eligible for housing assistance under current rules, but a family is eligible if at least one person in that household is eligible. For example, a man who is undocumented would not be eligible by himself, but his family could apply if his wife is a U.S. citizen or if he has a child who was born in the U.S. (that U.S.-born child enjoys birthright citizenship). And the benefits the family is entitled to receive are prorated accordingly.
But the new rule would require everyone in that household to have “eligible immigration status,” the Washington Post reports. According to HUD, roughly 25,000 households in the U.S. representing about 108,000 people presently living in subsidized housing have at least one ineligible member—and about 70% of these households with mixed immigration status (around 76,000 people) legally qualify for benefits. About 55,000 are children.
According to its analysis, “HUD expects that fear of the family being separated would lead to prompt evacuation by most mixed households. Temporary homelessness could arise for a household if they are unable to find alternative housing.”
Diane Yentel, president and chief executive of the National Low Income Housing Coalition, is highly critical of the proposed rule, and the Washington Post quotes her as saying, “Tens of thousands of deeply poor kids, mostly U.S. citizens, could be evicted and made homeless because of this rule. And by HUD’s own admission, there would be no benefit to families on the waiting list.”