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Take Action on “Public Charge” Changes: Keep the American Dream Within Reach

Take Action on “Public Charge” Changes: Keep the American Dream Within Reach

Upwardly Global is concerned that proposed changes to the “public charge” policy will negatively affect the people we serve, keeping immigrant families from meeting their most basic needs and limiting their contributions to this country’s workforce and economy. We are committed to keeping our networks informed about these proposed changes. We also join the call for action during the 60-day window in which the public can express their concerns about this issue.

What is a “public charge”?

Being considered a “public charge” means that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has determined that an immigrant is likely to become dependent on the government for subsistence. Being considered a “public charge” may affect some immigrants’ applications for admission to the United States, legal permanent residency, or adjustment or extension of a non-immigrant visa. The government first issued guidelines “public charge” policy in 1999, but new changes recently proposed by the Trump Administration would broaden these criteria.

What would change under this new proposal?

If the policy is changed as proposed, some immigrant families’ future use of certain food, health, and housing assistance programs could increase the likelihood that they would be considered a “public charge.” These programs could include cash support, long-term care, food stamps, federal housing and rental assistance, non-emergency Medicaid benefits, or Medicare Part D healthcare subsidies, and SNAP, CHIPS, TANF programs. The new list of “public charge” programs does not include any professional development or education programs. It also does not include any state benefits.

Use of government programs is one of 15 factors that DHS uses to evaluate if someone is likely to become a public charge. Other factors include age, health, family size, credit score, education, employment skills, and English-language abilities. Immigrants earning income over 250% of the federal poverty level are exempt from being considered against these criteria. That’s $30,350 for a single person or $62,750 for a family of four.

Who is affected by these changes?

No one will be affected by the new rules until they are finalized and implemented. While the exact date of potential implementation is still unknown, it will likely not happen until 2019. Until then, immigrants should continue to access programs to meet their families’ basic needs for food, health, and housing. Families cannot be penalized for accessing these supports until the rules change.

Even if the new policy is implemented as proposed, not all immigrants will be affected. The new rules will affect immigrants who are applying to become lawful permanent residents or extending a non-immigrant visa. They will not apply to refugees, asylees, Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) holders, or other protected groups.

What happens next?

The proposed rule change must go through a 60-day “public comment” process, which opened on October 10. Members of the public can submit comments and concerns about the proposed changes until December 10. After that time, DHS officials must consider all public feedback, respond to each substantive concern, and potentially make changes to the policy before creating the final rules. This process usually takes six months to over a year.

How can I speak out against these changes?  

Share your perspective and concerns by submitting a comment to the federal registry. You can ensure that hardworking immigrants are able to care for their families while they rebuild their lives and careers in the United States. Learn how to submit a comment here.

To learn more visit: https://protectingimmigrantfamilies.org/