May 10 (UPI) -- More than 55,000 children could be displaced by a federal plan to force undocumented immigrants from public housing, including children who are legal U.S. residents or citizens.
New rules published Friday in the Federal Register would increase regulations for undocumented immigrants accessing housing subsidized by the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
HUD Secretary Ben Carson said last month that the plan would "make certain our scarce public resources help those who are legally entitled to it." Current rules prohibit undocumented immigrants from receiving federal housing subsidies unless one person in the household is a U.S. citizen, such as a child born in the United States or a spouse who is a citizen. The subsidies are prorated to cover only the eligible residents.
The new rule requires every member of the family be of "eligible immigrant status." There are about 25,000 households in the United States with one member who is ineligible. With these new rules, undocumented immigrants can't sign the lease of a subsidized housing unit to get prorated benefits for their legal children.
The majority of the households affected, about 55,000 people, are in California, Texas and New York.
"HUD expects that fear of the family being separated would lead to prompt evacuation by most mixed households," HUD's analysis found. "Temporary homelessness could arise for a household, if they are unable to find alternative housing."
The average mixed-status family gets $8,400 a year in subsidies.
HUD suggested grandfathering in existing mixed-status families.
The proposal has sparked concerns about where these families will go.
"Tens of thousands of deeply poor kids, mostly U.S. citizens, could be evicted and made homeless because of this rule, and -- by HUDs own admission -- there would be no benefit to families on the waiting list," President and CEO of National Low Income Housing Coalition Diane Yentel said.
Rep. Dan Crensaw, R-Texas, tweeted support for Carson's plan, calling it "common sense policy."
"Stop the abuse on our public housing system so that we are prioritizing Americans who need it most," Crenshaw said. "Thank you to @SecretaryCarson for putting our most vulnerable Americans first and ensuring they get the aid they need."
Carson retweeted Crenshaw's statement with his own statement.
"We are working for the low-income Americans who are currently on the waitlist for public housing assistance," Carson said.