Having failed to effectuate migrant family separation on a mass scale last year, the Trump administration has settled on a new scheme to torment struggling migrant families - this time by threatening to split children who are U.S. citizens from their parents who are not. The proposal - call it Family Separation 2.0 - targets households of mixed-immigration-status families who receive federal housing subsidies. Under a proposed rule pushed by the White House, those families would be ineligible for housing assistance if just one member, including a parent or guardian, lacks documents.
That would leave mixed-status families with the choice of breaking apart or becoming homeless. Legal residents could remain in their homes as undocumented members were evicted.
According to a study by the Migration Policy Institute, there were 5.1 million children under 18 living in the United States with at least one undocumented parent from 2009 to 2013.
In targeting them, the proposed policy dovetails with the administration’s crusade of cruelty toward immigrants, legal and illegal. In the name of ridding assisted housing units of undocumented immigrants, Trump and his policy adviser Stephen Miller would threaten about 25,000 households, with a combined population of 108,000 people.
Under existing policy, those households can receive federal subsidies, prorated to include only citizens and legal residents and exclude unauthorized immigrants; the subsidies amount to $8,400 annually on average for a family.
If, under the proposed rule, those mixed-status families were evicted and replaced with households in which every member is eligible for federal housing assistance - meaning the federal government would no longer prorate subsidies - the cost to the government would increase by at least $193 million a year. So this is a policy of cruelty that would also cost the government.