Hawaii group seeks block of federal policy on immigrants

WAILUKU, Maui — A Hawaii community action agency has requested governmental help in blocking a new national policy that would affect immigrants across the islands, officials said.

A policy known as the public charge rule was approved this month and would prevent legal immigrants from obtaining green cards or permanent residency if they use or plan to use federal, state and even local public benefit programs, such as food stamps and Medicaid, Maui News reported Saturday.


The federal rule could affect more than 85% of clients in a Maui Economic Opportunity program, organization specialist Maria Lores-Browne said.

“It’s so hard for me to know that this woman, that this woman, that this gentleman is not going to have any place that they can go to for help,” she said.

The Maui Economic Opportunity provides services and advocates for about 15,000 individuals including elderly, disabled, young, economically disadvantaged people and immigrants, officials said.

Hawaii’s Democratic Sen. Mazie Hirono has plans to introduce legislation next month to block implementation of the rule, her office said.

“Organizations like Maui Economic Opportunity are doing great work to help new Americans transition and adapt to life in Hawaii,” Hirono said.


Nearly 1 in 5 Hawaii residents is an immigrant and more than 1 in 7 is a native-born citizen with at least one immigrant parent, officials said. More than $1 billion in taxes annually is contributed by immigrants in Hawaii.

The rule proposed by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services is expected to take effect Oct. 15.

  1. irloyal August 27, 2019 12:34 am

    I really don’t understand the need to compensate people who CHOOSE to immigrate to the US. We have HUGE needs on the islands for people who are citizens. Hawaii has no real options for caring for mentally or physically handicapped adults; Hawaii has not compensated the native homeland for roads and lands in use on Mauna Kea; Hawaii has no program to lift up the homeless and provide training and jobs, but these “Community Action” advocates want to provide food, shelter and water to people who have chosen to immigrate to Hawaii and have no means of support.

    These “ADVOCATES” are not friends of the Island Community. These are power hungry socialists who want nothing more than to destroy the Island way of life. these ADVOCATES want to decide who and how much money the people of Hawaii provide to keep people here who otherwise would not stay. Hawaii is an island of ALOHA, and we can work as caring individuals to provide a hand up, not a hand out. We welcome people who will “Pull the net” , we teach people to fish. We will shelter people who help to build and repair the neighborhood.

    Let the government of Hawaii fix the handicapped problems for our citizens, let the government of Hawaii work with church, neighbor and friend to find work for homeless citizens. As we protect our family and home we are then in a position to extend our Aloha and grow our population through immigration.

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