Trump's new anti-immigrant rule hurts veterans — and the VA isn't helping them


Trump's latest attack makes it harder for immigrants to get green cards and visas, but the VA is refusing to stand up for immigrant veterans.

The Trump administration has once again turned its back on veterans, refusing to protect those who were willing to serve this country from Trump's latest policy attacking immigrant families.

According to emails unearthed by ProPublica and released Monday, the Department of Veterans Affairs did not lift a finger to shield immigrant veterans from Trump's "public charge" rule that sought to make it harder for immigrants to stay in the country.

The new policy makes it significantly harder for immigrants who use federal assistance programs, such as Medicaid, housing assistance, or food assistance programs, to obtain a green card or visa. While the White House was drafting the rule, documents showed officials reached out to 19 agencies seeking comment.

The Department of Defense submitted comments to offer mild protections for active-duty immigrants who could be impacted by the rule, which were accepted.

"VA submits a 'No Comment' response," was the official reply from the department to the White House.

The complete unwillingness of the VA to stand up for veterans confused and enraged advocates.

"If they care about the active-duty people, I don't know why they don't care about military veterans who aren't doing very well," Margaret Stock, an immigration attorney with many military clients, told ProPublica.

"The main job — in fact the only job — of the VA is to look out for our nation's veterans and their families," Will Goodwin, an Army veteran and director of government relations for VoteVets. Goodwin added that the "VA has failed in its duty."

"It's despicable that the Trump Administration is punishing veterans who sacrificed for our country simply for using the support services they've earned," Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), a member of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee, told ProPublica.

The public charge rule is the subject of several lawsuits seeking to block its implementation.

"Generations of citizens landed on the welcoming shores of Ellis Island with nothing more than a dream in their pockets," New York Attorney General Letitia James said in a statement announcing one of the lawsuits. "The Trump Administration's thinly veiled efforts to only allow those who meet their narrow ethnic, racial and economic criteria to enter our nation is a clear violation of our laws and our values."

Aside from sustained attacks on immigrants, the Trump administration has a long track record of ignoring the need of veterans, especially people of color who are veterans.

In July, Rep. Mark Takano (D-CA), chair of the House Veterans' Affairs Committee, said the Trump administration is "completely ill-prepared" to protect American veterans in Puerto Rico if another massive hurricane strikes the island territory.

"Veterans in San Juan, Guayama, Ponce and elsewhere on the island still do not have access to the resources, medications, and supplies they need to survive another storm or natural disaster," he added after an investigation into resources on the island.

The VA has faced a flood of scandals during the Trump era. A handful of Trump's golf buddies from Mar-a-Lago were given an inordinate amount of control over VA policies at the beginning of the Trump administration. Emails from 2017 and 2018 show career employees at the department — the people with actual expertise — scrambling to respond to questions and demands from three of Trump's pals who were not government employees nor had relevant experience.

Trump has a long track record of disrespecting veterans. He even joked that he should give himself a Medal of Honor, despite dodging the draft and refusing to serve in Vietnam.

His cruel immigration is no joke to the proud immigrants to stepped up to serve, and there is nothing funny about Trump once again turning his back on veterans.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.