National Justice for Our Neighbors decries the new “public charge” regulation recently published by the Trump Administration. The new policy, scheduled to be implemented on October 15th (if litigation does not prevent the rule from taking effect), forces certain immigrants to choose between accessing critical government services and protecting their ability to obtain a green card.
“Public Charge,” a term used by the U.S. government in immigration proceedings, is defined as a person who is or is likely to become primarily dependent on the government for support. When applying for a visa to enter the U.S. or to receive a green card, a U.S. government official will assess the applicant’s life circumstances to determine if the person is likely to become dependent on government programs in the future. This new rule will expand who can be labeled a “public charge” by adding more benefits that will put someone at risk, including healthcare, food assistance, and housing assistance.
The following factors will determine whether you might rely on public assistance at any time in the future:
- Family size
- Education and skills, and
- How well you speak English.
Based on these changes, lower-income family members seeking to migrate lawfully will be less able to stay in the U.S. or unable to come to the U.S. in the first place.
As an example of how drastically this measure will limit future opportunities for low-income immigrants, consider this: one “heavily weighted negative factor” for someone seeking admission or a green card would be if the household income is not at least 250% of the Federal Poverty Level. Virtually no Justice for Our Neighbors client earns that much.
Moreover, experts such as the nonpartisan Migration Policy Institute warn of the chilling effect of this rule, which will result in millions of immigrants and their citizen children disenrolling from critical public benefit programs to which they are entitled, due to fear of negative immigration consequences.
Here are a few other important points regarding the new public charge rule:
- It does not apply to all immigrants; it only applies to individuals seeking admission into the United States or applying for adjustment of status.
- It does not apply in the naturalization process, through which green card holders apply to become U.S. citizens.
- It does not consider benefits used by family members.
- Many immigrants remain eligible for public benefits programs and should be unaffected by this rule. Asylees, refugees, U visa holders, Special Immigrant Juveniles, T visa holders, VAWA applicants, and most permanent residents are not subject to this new public charge rule.
Here’s a helpful overview of the regulation by the coalition Protecting Immigrant Families and a more detailed summary of the finalized rule, published by CLINIC.
We at National Justice for Our Neighbors stand against any measure that forces families to decide between seeking to be together and seeking to be healthy and safe. We hope you’ll agree, and that you will get involved. Here are ways you can make your voice heard:
- Sign here today! Representative Judy Chu (D-CA 27th District) is leading a legislative strategy to defund the public charge rule change, and other advocates are encouraging community support to pressure their representatives to join her.
- Callyour congressional representative.
- Sign this petitionto stop public charge.
- Weigh in on social media – When proposed last year, this regulation drew more than 266,000 comments . Continue to voice your concerns by using this social media guide from the Protecting Immigrant Families campaign.
We will do everything we can to oppose the new regulation and hope you will join us.