TRUMP ADMINISTRATION PROPOSAL COULD EVICT CITIZENS AND LEGAL IMMIGRANTS LIVING WITH UNDOCUMENTED IMMIGRANTS FROM PUBLIC HOUSING

Written by: Taher Kameli, Esq.

Imagine having to choose between living with a beloved family member or remaining in your current residence.  Such a difficult choice may soon be faced by US citizens and legal immigrants who live in public housing with undocumented immigrant family members as a result of a recent proposal by the Trump administration.  On April 17, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) proposed a rule that could evict so-called “mixed-immigration status” families (at least one family member is a citizen or legal immigrant, and at least one family member is undocumented) from public housing.

Under Section 214 of the Housing and Community Development Act of 1980, as amended, while undocumented immigrants by themselves cannot receive Federal housing assistance, “mixed-immigration status” families can reside in public housing if at least one member of the household (a citizen or legal immigrant) is eligible for public housing.  In these situations, the undocumented immigrants have declared themselves ineligible for public housing, but have not been required to reveal their immigration status; the amount of Federal housing subsidy for “mixed-immigration status” families has been prorated to allow for only those residents who are eligible for public housing.

Under the proposed rule from HUD, expanded use would be made of the Department of Homeland Security’s Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements (SAVE) system to screen all residents of public housing under the age of 62.  Not only the undocumented immigrant, but the entire “mixed-immigration status” family now could be evicted from public housing after 18 months. It is estimated that this new rule could affect approximately 25,000 “mixed-immigration status” families, principally living in California, New York, and Texas.  

In response to the proposed rule from HUD, National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials CEO Adrianne Todman stated, “To create a new rule that will disrupt existing tenants and families seems both cruel and unnecessary.  HUD already restricts housing benefits to U.S. citizens and eligible noncitizens. There are already rules in place, and public housing authorities both know them and follow them”. National Low Income Housing Coalition President and CEO Diane Yentel added, “The true purpose may be part of this Administration’s effort to instill fear in immigrants throughout the country”.

As the proposed rule from HUD still must be published in the Federal Register (it is expected that this step may occur during the week of May 6) and then be subject to a 60-day comment period before it becomes official, it may ultimately be modified in final form.  However, given the hostile attitude of the Trump administration on immigration issues, one should not be overly optimistic that any significant “softening” of the proposed rule on the housing situation for “mixed-immigration status” families will occur.

While it is easy to characterize the proposed rule from HUD as simply another example of anti-immigration policy from the Trump administration, there is another lesson to be learned here.  The proposed rule from HUD shows that a policy directed against undocumented immigrants can also adversely affect US citizens and legal immigrants. Whether you are an undocumented immigrant or a US citizen or legal immigrant, if an anti-immigration policy of the Trump administration is creating negative consequences for you, the Law Offices of Kameli and Associates has the immigration law expertise to help you.  Please contact the Law Offices of Kameli and Associates, at taher@kameli.com or 312-233-1000, for representation.