On October 10th, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) published a new rule changing the definition of what is known as “public charge”. The proposed changes would make it easier to deny residency petitions (also known as “green cards”) based on household income 250% of the federal poverty guideline or below, complicated health conditions, large family size, low education level, and other discretionary factors. Though the government already had a policy in place of examining cash-based benefits, the proposed rule would expand it to include non-cash benefits like Medicaid, SNAP, and Section 8 Housing. This rule also includes a provision to require at minimum a $10,000 bond for those whose incomes are less than 250% of federal poverty guidelines and to monitor current LPR holders for 5 years after their petitions are approved to ensure that they are not “‘abusing” the benefits system.
We serve clients who make 200% of the poverty guidelines or below. Thus, these changes will impact all of our clients if this administration finalizes it as published. Many of our clients’ children receive public benefits, and we are concerned about the “chilling effect” this rule will have on them. Though the rule published, in contrast to previous leaked drafts, states that family members’ usage of public benefits will not factor into the evaluation of the petitioner, many families are already scared to access programs that they need. Local agencies have already reported a decrease in applications for Medicaid and SNAP for US citizen children of mixed status families.
We strongly oppose any attempt to use immigration status to dissuade immigrant families from legally accessing means to support themselves, as well as attempts to limit legal processes for immigration status based on wealth, health, or education. Before the administration finalizes the rule, they must read and respond to every unique public comment submitted about the proposed regulation. We urge each of our supporters to submit their own and share this information with their circles. To do so, you can use this site that the Protecting Immigrant Families Coalition created to help concerned community members through the comment process. All comments must be posted by December 10th.