News & Updates
What is Public Charge and How Does it Affect Immigrant Families?
What is public charge?
The Trump Administration is seeking to change immigration policy through proposed new rules for immigrants who apply for lawful permanent residence (LPR, or "green card"). The proposed new rules would replace family immigration policies in favor of policies that favor richer and better educated immigrants. The rules would also greatly expand the programs whose use could lead to a public charge determination. This could lead to the denial of legal permanent residence for many immigrants. It will likely also have the effect of discouraging many immigrants from using any government services, regardless of their status.
"Public charge" is a ground of inadmissibility that could bar a person's admission to the U.S. on a visa or deny their adjustment of status to that of a lawful permanent resident. During the LPR application process, the government looks at the "totality of circumstances," including whether the applicant has used cash aid (TANF, SSI, General Assistance) or government-funded long term care and other factors. If a person is determined to be likely to become a public charge - someone who will be dependent on the government for basic needs - then they are denied.
What are the proposed changes?
The proposed new federal regulations will expand the programs whose use can lead to a public charge determination to include programs such as Medi-Cal (except emergency, pregnancy-only, and state-only services), CalFresh (Food Stamps), Section 8 housing vouchers, and Medicare Part D subsidies. Currently only the receipt of cash benefits such as CalWorks, and long term care are included.
Proposed Rule: Benefits Included and Not Included
The rules would also detail new factors for the "totality of circumstances" balancing test that would make it harder for low and moderate income people to pass.
What is the process moving forward?
The proposed regulations were published in the Federal Register on October 10, 2018 and a 60 day public comment period ended on December 10, 2018. Now the government must review all comments and the final rule must address all of the submitted comments. Once the final rule is published, implementation would begin 60 days later.
What do we tell families?
Parents are reported to be avoiding health care, vaccines, education and social services for themselves and their children to preserve their rights to become legal permanent residents and citizens. Here's what they need to know:
What can my agency and I do now?
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