The Trump Administration Wants to Kick Undocumented Immigrants Out of Public Housing

“We’re sending the message that you can’t live off of American welfare on the taxpayers’ dime.”

Chris Kleponis/AP

Facts matter: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter. Support our nonprofit reporting. Subscribe to our print magazine.

On Wednesday night, the Trump administration proposed to gut a policy in place since the Clinton administration that gives some undocumented immigrants access to public housing without having to disclose their immigration status. Trump’s proposal will bar undocumented immigrants from claiming housing assistance, saying it’s “unfair” to the citizens who are on waitlists for public housing. 

“HUD Secretary Carson’s cruel proposal announced yesterday related to undocumented immigrants would break up families and destabilize communities,” Diana Yentel, the CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition, said in a statement. The rule, which was proposed by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, comes at a time when the Trump administration has proposed several different policies designed to crack down on immigrants entering the country.

HUD proposes expanding its use of the Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements in order to screen occupants of public housing. SAVE is a program administered by the Department of Homeland Security and allows federal and local governments to quickly check the immigration and citizen status of individuals in order to determine if they are eligible for government benefits.  HUD Secretary Ben Carson praised Trump’s leadership, saying the move would help American citizens get off of long housing waitlists.

But housing experts say the Trump administration’s characterization of undocumented immigrants living in public housing is wrong. “HUD does not subsidize undocumented immigrants who live in public housing,” Yentel said in a statement. “Every assisted tenant household must have an eligible citizen in it, and ineligible members are not subsidized.”

Despite this, Trump administration officials are falsely claiming that undocumented immigrants are overburdening social services, so the crackdown on public housing is necessary. “We’ve got our own people to house and need to take care of our citizens,” an anonymous administration official told the Washington Times. “As illegal aliens attempt to swarm our borders, we’re sending the message that you can’t live off of American welfare on the taxpayers’ dime.” Waitlists for public housing can be months or years-long in many US cities. Some jurisdictions have simply closed their lists. Notably, despite the “affordable housing challenges” referred to by HUD Secretary Ben Carson, the Trump administration has proposed slashing HUD’s budget three years in a row.

Yentel notes that the new policy may not really about the long waiting lists for public housing. “They know well that [the rule] would do nothing to free up new units,” she said. “The true purpose may be part of this Administration’s effort to instill fear in immigrants throughout the country.”

THE TRUTH...

is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

payment methods

THE TRUTH...

is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate