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LatinoJustice Sues to Uncover Information About HUD’s Proposed Rule to Separate Immigrant Families in Federal Rental Assistance Programs

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

July 1st, 2020 

Contact: Elianne Ramos; Chief Communications Officer; [email protected]; 212.739.7513

LatinoJustice Sues to Uncover Information About HUD’s Proposed Rule to Separate Immigrant Families in Federal Rental Assistance Programs

New York, NY – LatinoJustice joined by its pro bono law firm partner, Winston & Strawn, LLP, have sued the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (“HUD”) to obtain documents and information regarding HUD’s proposed rule, which will force undocumented parents of U.S. citizen children, who are mostly Latinx, to either separate from their families in order for the children to continue receiving rental assistance or move out the entire family and risk homelessness.

In May 2019, HUD published a proposed rule which prohibits any resident of federally assisted housing who is not in an eligible immigration status from being a leaseholder. Under existing federal regulations, consistent with permissive language in federal housing law, mixed immigration status households have their subsidies prorated such that an undocumented household member does not receive any federal subsidy. But to preserve family integrity, the undocumented family member can live in the same household with their U.S. citizen children or eligible immigrant household members. HUD proposes to change this longstanding rule to require mixed status families to either forgo their rental assistance or ask the undocumented parent to separate from the rest of the family. 

Given the Trump administration’s anti-immigrant rhetoric and policies, LatinoJustice filed a Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”) request asking HUD to release records about the impacts of the proposed rule by race, national origin and ethnicity. HUD has failed to provide any of the requested information. A recent report by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities—a nonprofit group—suggests that 85% of people living in mixed immigration status families in the three largest federal rental assistance programs are Latinx families.

“The proposed rule smacks of the family separation policy we witnessed recently at the border. It is reprehensible for HUD to propose, let alone consider implementing, this rule at this time given the COVID-19 pandemic. If HUD must proceed with its cruel policy, the public deserves to know whether it considered and disregarded the racial justice ramifications of its decision-making” said Natasha Lycia Ora Bannan, Senior Counsel, LatinoJustice PRLDEF.

“Winston & Strawn is proud, as part of its pro bono commitment to equality,

to stand together with LatinoJustice against an unlawful rule that threatens to tear apart immigrant and Latinx families who depend on HUD housing assistance.  This FOIA suit will help uncover evidence of what appears to be the discriminatory intent and disparate impact that underlies this rule,” said Jeffrey L. Kessler, Co-Executive Chairman of Winston & Strawn, LLP.

The lawsuit, which seeks to shed much needed sunlight on how HUD’s proposed rule will increase homelessness, will fall harshly on mostly mixed status Latinx households, and will likely exacerbate risk of exposure to COVID-19, is pending in the Southern District of New York.  

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About LatinoJustice 
LatinoJustice PRLDEF works to create a more just society by using and challenging the rule of law to secure transformative, equitable and accessible justice, by empowering our community and by fostering leadership through advocacy and education. For more than 40 years, LatinoJustice PRLDEF has acted as an advocate against injustices throughout New York and beyond. To learn more about LatinoJustice, visit www.latinojustice.org