In another attempt to make life more difficult for the most vulnerable, the government of President Donald Trump sent the Office of Management and Budget a new federal rule that seeks to make it a negative factor if an immigrant applying for residency uses public benefits to support his or her American children, whom he labels as “public charges.”

In North Carolina at least 219,000 children who are U.S. citizens receive benefits from Medicaid or CHIP (the Children’s Health Insurance Program).

According to a report by the North Carolina Justice Center, if this rule is implemented, American children of immigrant parents would be the hardest hit. The reason: if their parents have the possibility of applying for legal residency in the short or medium term, they will probably stop applying for health insurance, food stamps, or even the WIC (Women, Infants, and Children) program because they don’t want their residency applications to be negatively affected. Yet their children are entitled to these programs.

This rule is only intended to attack the poorest, perpetuating the myth that people with limited economic resources are lazy and want everything for free.

To say that poverty is due only to laziness is a generalization that is very far from the truth, as there are multiple factors at play that make up the pieces of the complex social puzzle. It is also incorrect to say that all wealth comes from hard work, as some people simply inherit fortunes.

According to the renowned economist Robert B. Reich, a professor at the University of California at Berkeley: “In reality, a large and growing share of the nation’s poor work full time – sometimes sixty or more hours a week – yet still don’t earn enough to lift themselves and their families out of poverty.”

Berkeley adds that, on the other hand: “Six of today’s ten wealthiest Americans are heirs to prominent fortunes. The Walmart heirs alone have more wealth than the bottom 40% of Americans combined.”

Of course, there are cases of poor people who, through dedication and hard work, have gotten ahead. We do not deny that reality, but we must not ignore the complex web of economic mobility, which directly influences the issue of poverty. Let’s look at an example.

In 2013, a study by Harvard University/UC Berkeley found that the city of Charlotte ranked last among the 50 largest cities in the United States in terms of economic mobility. That is, if a child is born into a poor home in Charlotte, it is very likely that he will remain poor when he is an adult.

Faced with this alarming reality, a multidisciplinary committee was created to study the issue. The task force found that three main determining factors influence the cycle of poverty in our communities: early care and education for children, college and career readiness, and child and family stability. Finally, last year a report was presented with various recommendations that are gradually being implemented.

This is a good example of working together in the fight against poverty and seeking solutions at a political, economic, educational, and company level. Trump’s absurd idea of fighting poverty by making life more miserable for the poor is like wanting to cure a headache by cutting off your head.

Diego Barahona A.

Periodista, editor, asesor, y presentador. De 2016 a 2019 el periodista más galardonado en Estados Unidos por los Premios José Martí. Autor del best seller: ¿Cómo leer a las personas?

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