Californians, stand up for immigrants targeted by ‘public charge’ rule

Philanthropy California and Grantmakers Concerned for Immigrants and Refugees are proud to stand united with immigrant families, and for a vibrant and inclusive California for all. We are grateful for the leadership and the perseverance of this community as we look to the future of California and the promise it holds. Below are the organizations that stand with us for immigrants targeted by the 'public charge' rule, and share the views in the opinion piece below, Californians, stand up for immigrants targeted by ‘public charge’ rule published today in the San Francisco Chronicle.

Ray Baxter, President and CEO, Blue Shield of California Foundation

Antonia Hernández, President & Chief Executive Officer, California Community Foundation

Sandra R. Hernández, MD, President & Chief Executive Officer, California Health Care Foundation

Judy Belk, President and CEO, The California Wellness Foundation

Carol S. Larson, President and CEO, The David and Lucile Packard Foundation

Cathy Cha, President, Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund

Daranee Petsod, President, Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees

Leslie Dorosin and Rebekah Saul Butler, Co-Executive Directors, The Grove Foundation

Jacqueline Martinez Garcel, CEO, Latino Community Foundation

Ellen LaPointe, President and CEO, Northern California Grantmakers

Debbie McKeon, President and CEO, San Diego Grantmakers

Fred Blackwell, CEO, San Francisco Foundation

Chet P. Hewitt, President and CEO, Sierra Health Foundation

Nicole Taylor, President and CEO, Silicon Valley Community Foundation

Adrienne Wittenberg, Executive Director, S. Mark Taper Foundation

Christine Essel, President and CEO, Southern California Grantmakers

Eugene Stein, President, Stein Early Childhood Development Fund

Glen Galaich, CEO, Stupski Foundation

Jamie Allison, Executive Director, Walter & Elise Haas Fund

Robert Uyeki, CEO, Y & H Soda Foundation


Californians, stand up for immigrants targeted by ‘public charge’ rule

By Ellen LaPointe, Christine Essel, Debbie McKeon and Daranee Petsod 

On Oct. 11, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California temporarily blocked the federal government’s changes to the “public charge” rule, after hearing arguments from the state of California, Santa Clara County and San Francisco, along with health care, legal services and immigrant organizations.

Three days later, judges in New York and Washington also blocked the rule.

Under the new rule, the use of benefits such as non-emergency Medi-Cal for non-pregnant adults, CalFresh and certain types of federal housing assistance, among other programs, will count against immigrants when they apply for a Permanent Resident Card (a “green card”) or for a visa to enter the United States. It will force families to choose between meeting basic human needs — housing, food, and health care — and securing the possibility of a long-term future in the U.S.

The rule is already having a chilling effect. Misinformation and uncertainty about the rule’s long-term implications are leading immigrant families across California, including those with U.S. citizen children, to avoid public assistance, such as health care and nutrition programs for which they are legally eligible and which help them thrive.

But the temporary injunctions remind us that California doesn’t have to stand for this. We can unite across our state in support of our immigrant community.

From entrepreneurs to farmworkers to tech workers, immigrants are the lifeblood of our state. Ten million immigrants live in California, and half of the children in our state (twice the national average) have at least one immigrant parent — that’s 4.5 million kids.

The largest share of immigrant workers in California are spread across a wide range of industries: farming, fishing and forestry; building and grounds cleaning and maintenance; production; construction and extraction; and computer and mathematical science. Immigrants are entrepreneurs, making up 40% of self-employed California residents, generating $21.8 billion in business income in 2015. They are more than a third of our labor force and make up nearly a third of our state’s GDP. In 2014 alone, immigrants paid $26.4 billion in state and local taxes.

California’s culture — our music, food, art and community life — is molded by those from around the globe, and we celebrate this diversity across our state. Half of the foreign-born population in California comes from Latin America, predominantly from Central America and Mexico, but also Cuba, Jamaica, El Salvador, Brazil, Colombia and other countries. Nearly 40% of the foreign-born population in our state is from Asia — from China, Japan, Korea, India, the Philippines, Vietnam and many other countries.

The new “public charge” rule is more than an attack on immigrants; it is an attack on a vibrant, thriving California.

Many philanthropy leaders across the state are united in support of California’s immigrant community, and we have stood in firm opposition to this new rule since it was proposed. We are backing up these statements with dollars. This includes rapid response funding for organizations conducting outreach and education as well as providing direct services to affected children and families; supporting efforts by researchers to monitor, document and study the harm caused by the rule changes; helping to build a long-term movement infrastructure; and supporting advocates in their efforts to reduce or reverse harmful policies at the federal level.

Creating the inclusive, prosperous California we know is possible and requires everyone. We’ve written to state and local governments, calling on them to reach out to communities with accurate information in multiple languages about the rule; to continue to provide free legal assistance to immigrants who need it; to help us by tracking disenrollment that results from the rule; and to provide updates on the actions they take.

Leaders in business — from the tech companies in Silicon Valley in Northern California, to the agricultural business owners across Central California, to film industry leaders in Los Angeles and small business owners in San Diego — must identify ways they, too, can stand with immigrants in mitigating the effects of this rule.

Other pillars of our state’s success, including health care providers, educational institutions and the news media must also deploy their unique resources as well, from direct services to shaping the narratives we tell future generations about this moment in our history.

How can you help make sure that the information shared about this rule and its impact is accurate and complete? How can you foster a sense of safety and community in your workplace, school or health care setting?

As we look to the future of California and the promise it holds, we are grateful for the leadership and the perseverance of immigrant families. We are proud to stand united with them, and for a vibrant and inclusive California for all. We urge you to do the same.

Ellen LaPointe is president and CEO of Northern California Grantmakers; Christine Essel is president and CEO of Southern California Grantmakers; Debbie McKeon is president and CEO of San Diego Grantmakers; and Daranee Petsod is president of Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees.



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