Sen. Mazie Hirono

HONOLULU – Sen. Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawaii) released the following statement on Aug. 21 after the Trump Administration announced a final rule aimed at dismantling protections for migrant children under the Flores Settlement Agreement:

“This is an administration that apparently sits around trying to come up with at least one cruel thing they can do to immigrants every single day. Now, the same people behind separating families, holding children in dangerous and unsanitary conditions, and constantly dehumanizing immigrants want a rule to indefinitely detain children and families fleeing terrible violence in Central America. \

“No amount of cruelty is enough for this administration. We need to fight back.”

On Aug. 13, Hirono, who is herself an immigrant, spoke out against the administration’s rule redefining who can be barred from entering the U.S. or become a legal permanent resident based on the individual’s likelihood to become a “public charge,” or someone primarily dependent on the government for subsistence.

Under the rule, the administration can deny green cards and visas to immigrants based on their use of certain public benefits, family size, age, wealth, education, health status, English language ability, and other criteria.

“Today, with his so-called ‘public charge’ rule, Donald Trump is once again terrorizing immigrant families by sowing confusion and keeping families apart under a legally suspect definition of ‘public charge.’ This rule claims to be about determining who is likely to become a public charge,” Hirono said.

“What the rule actually does is it allows the Trump Administration to deny visas and green cards to immigrant families not only for accessing essential food, medical care, and housing benefits they are entitled to, but also based on factors such as their family size, education, English-language ability, and income.

“Most immigrants seeking visas or permanent residence are not eligible for these public benefits. But under this rule, many of them will be prevented from entering or staying lawfully in the United States based on the Trump Administration’s view of what education, family size, income, or English language ability deserves a visa or green card.

“In addition, this ‘public charge’ rule will scare many immigrants – including permanent residents and U.S. citizens who are not subject to this rule – from accessing critical services based on fear and confusion about how the administration will implement the rule. We have already seen this widespread chilling effect on immigrant families who are afraid to use needed government benefits since the Trump administration proposed this rule months ago.

“The final rule released today will further hurt children and vulnerable people, and undermine the health and stability of immigrant families.

“Donald Trump claims this rule is about identifying immigrants who are likely to become a ‘public charge’ and making sure immigrants are ‘self-sufficient,’ but in fact, this discriminatory rule is really about shutting the doors on immigrants who do not meet his view of what being an ‘American’ means.”

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