The seal of the Department of Homeland Security in Washington. (Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images)

We rarely see government actively working to make problems worse. But that’s exactly what a draft Trump administration regulation, reported in the March 29 front-page article “DHS targets immigrants who receive public help,” would do by punishing immigrants for feeding their children or going to the doctor.

This dangerous idea would force families to choose between meeting basic needs and reuniting with loved ones. The plan would penalize everything from breast-feeding assistance to home heating subsidies. The obvious consequence — as the administration’s draft acknowledges — is a poorer, hungrier and sicker nation. This proposal targets immigrants in line for green cards and eventually citizenship, as well as their U.S. citizen children. It attacks families who pay the same taxes as everyone else and who should have the same access to health care and other supports. And it would widen already alarming racial disparities, because family-based immigrants are overwhelmingly families of color.

We and others who advocate access to health, nutrition, education, equity and opportunity will vigorously oppose this wrongheaded and coldhearted proposal. We urge the American people and Congress to join us. Together we can protect our country and build communities where all can thrive.

Olivia Golden, Washington

The writer is executive director of the
Center for Law and Social Policy.

Marielena Hincapié, Los Angeles

The writer is executive director of the
National Immigration Law Center.