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New Immigration Public Charge Rule Will Harm Children and Families

As you may know, the Trump Administration announced a change to the "Public Charge" Inadmissibility Rule, effective October 15th, that creates new barriers for becoming a legal permanent resident (LPR) or immigrating to the United States. In addition to creating new restrictions on immigration, advocates are concerned that these harmful changes will lead to decreased use of programs essential for children and families' health, or put parents in the position of having to choose between staying together and accessing health care and other resources. While lawsuits and litigation are underway to block implementation, we want to make sure that you have accurate information on the new rule and legal aid resources. 

Public Charge Rule related to public benefits

Under the longstanding Public Charge policy, the government can deny entry or LPR to an individual determined to be a "public charge." Previously defined as a person likely to become "primarily dependent on the government for subsistence," the new rule defines the term “public charge” to mean an individual who receives one or more designated public benefits for more than 12 months, in the aggregate, within any 36-month period (such that, for instance, receipt of two benefits in one month counts as two months).

Included public benefits

Prior to the change, two benefit areas were taken into consideration when determining if an applicant was likely to become a public charge: cash assistance and SSI. The new rule, which will go into effect in October, expands the criteria that officials may use in public charge determinations to include whether a person has received:Medicaid (MediCal), Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP/food stamps) Section 8 housing assistance and federally subsidized housing, State or local cash assistance programs.Public charge does not apply to WIC, CHIP, school lunches, food banks, or shelters, or to benefits received by an applicant's children or family members. 

Who is affected? The Public Charge rule applies primarily to new immigrants seeking a green card or certain types of visas. It does not apply to immigrants who already have a green card or Legal Permanent Residency or who are applying for certain visa types, like U or T Visas, or asylee status. The new rule will only apply to immigrants who file their application on or after October 15, 2019.

Resources and Action

1. Share information so families who may be impacted can take steps to protect their health and well-being. Here are a few resources:

Public Charge: Getting the help you need (English)

CARGA PÚBLICA Preguntas Más Frecuentes (Spanish)

Let’s talk about Public Charge (English)

You Have Rights, Protect Your Health (English) – also available in SpanishFrenchChineseArabic

List of qualified California Immigration Assistance and Legal Aid organizations

2. Get involved with the Protect Immigrant Families Campaign – they’re working to pass H.R. 3222, the No Federal Funds for Public Charge Act of 2019, which would block its implementation. Many of our local US Representatives are already co-sponsoring the legislation, so visit their page to find out how you can support.

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