Views expressed in opinion columns are the author's own.
Remember when after the election, millions of liberals nervously anticipated the nationalist takeover of the government and the collapse of the American identity into racist gatekeeping? Most of that panic was unwarranted, but in a very small way, it's happening right now. And we're ignoring it.
The Trump administration may institute a new regulation that would prevent many legal immigrants from staying in the country long-term based on their usage of public benefits. Those benefits include enrolling their U.S.-born children in programs like Head Start or the Children's Health Insurance Program. The regulation seeks to label immigrants who use such programs as "public charges." Immigration officers would then be able to deny them permanent residence because of the burden they supposedly impose on taxpayers.
I could argue that an immigrant's use of public benefits doesn't mean they're not contributing to the economy. Or I could argue that immigrants' contributions to American culture outweigh any economic cost. Or I could argue that they aren't any more of a burden than the American citizens who use the same services. In fact, I could even argue that by the administration's logic, anyone who uses public benefits should be immediately deported. But none of those criticisms address the most dangerous aspect of the proposed regulation: President Trump is trying to radically restrict the definition of "American" — and to legally enforce it.
The policy doesn't just impact immigrants. It also targets their children, many of whom are American citizens. Punishing parents for using CHIP or Head Start effectively denies their children access to life-changing services. Even though legal immigrants are entitled to public benefits, many would likely choose not to take advantage of them if the regulation is put in place. Doing so could jeopardize their future in this country.
Essentially, the Trump administration is writing immigration policy designed specifically to discriminate against American citizens.
Trump is not just targeting undocumented immigrants, or Dreamers, or even legal immigrants. He has turned his assault toward U.S.-born children — American citizens. They are American by every practical and legal definition, but Trump apparently thinks they aren't American enough. Just having an immigrant parent disqualifies you from being part of the Trump administration's version of America.
The draft regulation went somewhat unnoticed by the media. I admit that with so much to be outraged over, it's easy to miss smaller moves like this. Once it goes into effect, and begins to rip apart the lives of American citizens and their families, I suspect it will stir up more outrage.
But immigrant families can't afford to wait for liberals to get outraged. Trump seeks to make their American children lesser than their peers simply because their family history somehow makes them unworthy. The proposed regulation is pure nationalism. Trump is attempting to drastically rewrite immigration policy without so much as the approval of Congress. It's yet another hate-fueled attempt to make America a more homogenous, insular, xenophobic nation. This regulation, more than anything Trump has done since taking office, deserves outrage.
Nate Rogers is a freshman physics major. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.