California governmental and educational leaders are not happy with Monday's decision by the Trump administration to issue new rules that could deny green cards to immigrants who use Medicaid, food stamps, housing vouchers or other forms of public assistance.
The rule change elicited a negative reaction from California officials almost immediately on Monday.
Governor Gavin Newsom issued a written statement in which he wrote, "This is a reckless policy that targets the health and well-being of immigrant families and communities of color, with widespread implications for our state’s health care, housing and affordability."
The Democratic governor also said the state is reviewing the details of the decision to determine next steps, but for now, he is encouraging immigrant families to seek qualified legal advice as to how the rule change might affect them.
University of California President Janet Napolitano issued a statement of her own in which she condemned the change, claimed it sends a message to other countries that the United States doesn't want the best and brightest, and questioned the administration's motives.
"This rule also means that a number of UC students and other California residents, out of an abundance of caution, may be reluctant to seek available assistance such as preventative health care, housing opportunities, and nutrition education and benefits," wrote Napolitano. The former Democratic governor of Arizona and onetime head of Homeland Security in the Obama administration also wrote that the decision penalizes and chills much-needed access to vital benefits for which lawful immigrants.
The Health and Human Services Agency added to the strong California reaction the change.
"HHS, along with its Departments and Offices, opposes any changes to the federal public charge policy that would restrict access to vital social programs or that would require families across California to make an impossible choice between taking public assistance to meet their basic needs and their ability to stay together. We are committed to building a California that is inclusive of all our neighbors."
Citizenship and Immigration Services acting Director Ken Cuccinelli denies the administration is ignoring America's generations-long commitment to taking in immigrants in need.
Asked about the poem on the base of the Statue of Liberty which reads in part: "Give me your tired, your poor, you're huddled masses yearning to breath free," Cuccinelli said he's "certainly not prepared to take anything down off the Statue of Liberty."