Trump Admin Wants to Eliminate Housing Assistance for Undocumented Immigrants

A new proposal from the Trump administration could prevent undocumented immigrants from receiving public housing. The proposal would strengthen existing public housing regulations, which could have an adverse effect on undocumented people seeking supportive housing, The Washington Post reported on Thursday. The Housing and Urban Development (HUD) agency estimates that there are approximately 32,000 households of undocumented immigrants who are receiving federal housing assistance, The Post noted.

According to a fact sheet from HUD obtained by Politico, the proposed law would screen all public housing residents under age 62 through the Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements, an electronic system operated by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to verify a person’s immigration status. Those who are found to be undocumented could lose housing assistance, but can “obtain temporary deferral of termination of assistance for up to 18 months.”

HUD estimated “there may be millions of qualifying US citizens and legal US residents languishing on waitlists for housing assistance,” according to the fact sheet. HUD Secretary Ben Carson tweeted in support of the proposal the same day. “Thanks to @realDonaldTrump's leadership, we are putting America's most vulnerable first. Our nation faces affordable housing challenges and hundreds of thousands of citizens are waiting for many years on waitlists to get housing assistance,” Carson wrote.

Despite HUD’s findings, the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NHLIC) told The Post that it estimates 22,000 to 25,000 households who are receiving public housing have family members who are not legal US citizens. NLIHC President and CEO Diane Yentel called HUD’s proposal “cruel,” noting that it would separate families and would not help with decreasing waitlist time.

“HUD does not subsidize undocumented immigrants who live in public housing. Every household must have an eligible citizen or legal resident in it, and ineligible members are not subsidized,” Yentel in a statement. “HUD falsely claims the change is proposed out of concern for long waiting lists, when they know well that it would do nothing to free up new units. The true purpose may be part of this administration’s effort to instill fear in immigrants throughout the country.”

The proposal is just one part of President Donald Trump’s crackdown on immigration policy. The administration is reportedly trying to push a proposal that could double the time asylum seekers must wait before obtaining a permit to legally work in the US. Undocumented immigrants who are applying for asylum currently have to wait 180 days before they are granted a new work permit, but the latest proposal from the administration could force people to wait up to 365 days, according to the report.

“To strengthen the integrity of the asylum system, US Citizenship and Immigration Services plans to propose regulatory amendments intended to promote greater accountability in the application process for requesting employment authorization and to deter the fraudulent filing of asylum applications for the purpose of obtaining work authorization,” United States Citizenship and Immigration Services Spokeswoman Jessica B. Collins previously told The North Star.

The administration is also trying to accelerate deportations, a senior administration official told Axios this month. The Immigration Customs Enforcement agency deported more than 256,000 people in 2018, The Washington Post previously reported.

About the Author

Maria Perez is a breaking news writer for The North Star. She has an M.A. in Urban Reporting from the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. She has been published in the various venues, including Newsweek, Juvenile Justice Information Exchange, City Limits, and local newspapers like The Wave and The Home Reporter.