The Department of Housing and Urban Development has proposed a tightening of its policies with the intention of preventing any illegal immigrant from benefitting from federal housing assistance, according to Politico.

The proposal seeks to free up housing assistance for American citizens, but there is a complicating factor sparking some backlash: the rule change would displace thousands of children who are citizens or legal residents.

What’s the problem? Currently, families that have illegal immigrant members can receive some federal housing assistance if there are also legal resident or citizen members of the family.

The proposed rule change would require a family to be fully legal in order to receive housing assistance. That means families with children who are citizens but parents who are illegal would no longer receive aid.

How many people would be affected? According to HUD data, about 25,000 families living in federal housing have at least one member who is an illegal immigrant. That could result in as many as 55,000 children with legal status or citizenship being displaced from federal housing.

Sen. Sherrod Brown criticized the proposal.

“If Secretary Carson and this White House really wanted to address housing needs, they would not have slashed affordable housing in their budget,” Brown said.

What does HUD say about this? A HUD analysis acknowledged the difficult choice mixed families would face as a result of the rule change, but anticipated that the policy would not result in many families being separated.

“HUD expects that fear of the family being separated would lead to prompt evacuation by most mixed households, whether that fear is justified,” HUD staff wrote. “It is assumed that smaller households consisting of parents and children are unlikely to separate in order to retain housing assistance. By this assumption, most mixed households are likely to leave assisted housing together. Temporary homelessness could arise for a household, if they are unable to find alternative housing.”

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