CHN: More than 189,000 Comments Submitted on Proposed Anti-Immigrant Public Charge Rule Changes

More than 189,000 comments have been received to date on the Trump Administration’s proposed “public charge” rule; the deadline for submitting comments is 11:59pm ET on December 10. The proposed rule would make it harder for immigrants to come to or stay in the U.S. if they use any number of public benefits they are legally entitled to, such as SNAP/food stamps or housing assistance. The public charge provisions of U.S. immigration law state that noncitizens can be considered a “public charge” if they are deemed likely to become primarily dependent on the government to meet their basic needs. The current, long-standing public charge determination, made when a person is applying for admission to the U.S. or for Lawful Permanent Resident (green card) status, is limited to the receipt of public cash assistance, like SSI or TANF, or long-term care in an institution.

The proposed changes would greatly alter this policy and expand the forms of public assistance considered. If implemented, the public charge determination process would consider whether an individual has received or is likely to receive in the future one or more of a much broader array of non-cash benefits as well, including SNAP, housing vouchers or public housing, Medicaid, and Medicare Part D (prescription drug) low-income subsidies. Under the proposed rule, immigrants who do not receive benefits but have incomes below 125 percent of the federal poverty line could also be denied entry.

Advocates believe that this is a back door way for the Trump administration to restrict family immigration and to take away health care, housing, and food assistance from immigrant families. If implemented, advocates fear these changes would force immigrant families to make impossible choices between meeting basic needs and keeping their families together in the U.S. Some service agencies have already reported panic in the immigrant community and have seen cases of families pulling out of programs like school meals because of fear that it may negatively impact them in the future, despite the fact that the proposal would not count services used before the rule would be finalized.

Over the 60-day comment period that ran from Oct. 10 through Dec. 10, many organizations urged advocates to submit public comments in opposition to the rule, with the goal of 100,000 comments submitted. For more information, visit the Protecting Immigrant Families website, read the comments CHN submitted, and watch this webinar hosted by CHN.

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