Sonoma County's Superintendent of Schools, Steven Herrington, released a strongly-worded letter today, objecting to a government plan to restrict immigration to the United States, or legal status for those already here, based on whether prospective immigrants might become "public charges," that is, use programs such as SNAP (food stamps), Medicare, and federal housing assistance programs (such as Section 8 vouchers).
Comments on the rule are due today, December 10. If you miss the deadline, contact your public officials to make your voice heard.
Here is his complete letter (pdf). Below is the heart of Herrington's argument:
"As the elected County Superintendent of Schools in Sonoma County, California, I am committed to the health, safety, and well-being of all my students, regardless of immigration status.
"Research is clear: Students cannot learn if they are unhealthy, hungry, or dealing with stress.
"The proposed change to the public charge rule will result in families forgoing food, health, and housing benefits out of fear that receiving them will jeopardize their legal immigration status. This means more kids will have inadequate nutrition, a lack of routine medical care, and destabilized living conditions.
"On the immediate end, these factors will contribute to absenteeism, reduced student engagement, increased behavioral issues, and decreased academic performance. Longterm, children are at risk of irreversible damage due to the connection between emotional health and brain development."
Nonprofits in Sonoma County are sharing documents about the proposed changes, including this short FAQ in English and in Spanish.