Ellie Coburn

Ellie Coburn

The Trump administration announced a new policy that would force legal immigrants to choose between either meeting their basic needs or staying with their families. This policy dictates that an immigrant can be denied permanent residency in the U.S. if they have received or are likely to receive public benefits such as Medicaid, SNAP (food stamps) or federal housing assistance.

This policy is cruel and shows a lack of basic human decency.

Parents are forgoing assistance that they or their children are legally entitled to out of fear of deportation. One in four children in the US is a part of immigrant families.

Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen claims that this rule will “promote immigrant self-sufficiency and protect finite resources by ensuring that they are not likely to become burdens on American taxpayers.”

Let me tell you a real “made in America” success story. In Magic Valley, the dairy industry is enormous. Chobani opened the world’s largest yogurt production factory in Twin Falls about five years ago, doubling Idaho’s milk production. Direct diary sales have provided Idaho with nearly $10.4 billion in direct sales alone. Magic Valley exemplifies the potential prosperity of rural America.

Idaho dairy industry representatives estimate that over 80 percent of dairy workers are immigrants. Without workers, there is no business. Without immigrants, there is no profit.

Hispanic immigrants are the backbone of Idaho’s hugely valuable diary industry.

Idaho is not “self-sufficient” without immigrants.

The Trump administration has been trying to demonize immigrants. We cannot allow him to continue to target our immigrant friends, family, and neighbors unjustly. We cannot allow xenophobic policy to pass without protest. All of us, especially Sen. Jim Risch, Sen. Mike Crapo, Rep. Mike Simpson, Rep. Raúl Labrador, need to stand up for what’s right. We need to stand up against this harmful policy, and allow immigrant families the access to food and medical care.

Ellie Coburn is a real change fellow with RESULTS, a nonprofit dedicated to fighting poverty. She’s a senior at Brigham Young University-Idaho majoring in international studies, with a minor in Mandarin Chinese.

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