By Chris Sommerfeldt
May 10, 2019
Thousands of children with legal immigration status could end up homeless because of a controversial Trump administration plan to purge undocumented immigrants from public housing complexes across the country, federal housing officials said Friday.
An internal analysis by the Housing and Urban Development agency found that roughly 108,000 people would be affected by a rule change floated by the administration to bar families who have any undocumented members from being eligible for federally subsidized housing.
But about 70% of the people in the impacted households have legal immigration status — and 55,000 of them are children, according to HUD.
Those kids — a majority of whom live in New York, California and Texas — could be displaced and forced into homelessness if the rule is implemented, as families with one or more undocumented members are likely to vacate their units out of “fear,” HUD says.
“HUD expects that fear of the family being separated would lead to prompt evacuation by most mixed households,” the analysis states. “Temporary homelessness could arise for a household, if they are unable to find alternative housing.”
Under current rules, undocumented immigrants are eligible for subsidized housing as long as one of their family members have legal status, such as a child born in the U.S. or a spouse with American citizenship.
The rule change, part of a legacy pushed by President Trump’s far-right senior adviser Stephen Miller, would do away with that exception and require all family members to have “eligible immigration status," according to the proposal entered into the Federal Register by HUD Secretary Ben Carson on Friday.
The White House declined to comment.
In a statement, Carson argued the new rule will make sure American citizens are first in line for federal housing benefits.
“There is an affordable housing crisis in this country, and we need to make certain our scarce public resources help those who are legally entitled to it,” Carson said. "Given the overwhelming demand for our programs, fairness requires that we devote ourselves to legal residents who have been waiting, some for many years, for access to affordable housing.”
Mayor de Blasio promised to fight the measure.
“President Trump wants us to evict our neighbors and call it ‘immigration reform,’” Freddi Goldstein, the mayor’s spokeswoman, said. "Not in New York City. We’ll do all we can to fight this because we know our diversity is our greatest strength.”
Immigration advocates ripped Carson’s argument as flawed, considering most of the people HUD would be evicting have legal status. Meanwhile, the Trump administration has proposed steep cuts to federal housing budgets.
“This is a cold-hearted attack," said Javier Valdés, co-executive director of Make the Road New York. “As HUD’s own internal analysis reveals, this new proposal from the Trump administration will only worsen the housing crisis we currently face in states like New York, by driving families, including many US-citizen children, out of their homes and onto the streets. Our community is deeply opposed to this reckless and mean-spirited federal proposal.”
The rule change will undergo a 60-day public comment period before taking effect.