What is the Protecting Immigrant Families campaign?
The Trump Administration has made clear its intent to make life more difficult for low-income immigrant families by restricting their ability to access basic programs that safeguard their health care, nutrition, housing, and economic security. The Protecting Immigrant Families, Advancing Our Future (“PIF”) campaign, co-chaired by the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) and the National Immigration Law Center (NILC) brings together leading advocates for immigrants, children, education, health, anti-hunger and anti-poverty groups, and faith leaders, not only to defend against these threats, but also to lay the foundation for a more productive national dialogue about our immigrant tradition and our country’s future.
Our vision: A nation where all are truly equal, immigration is recognized as a strength, and no one in America is denied the essentials of life because of where they were born.
Our purpose: To unite to protect and defend access to health care, nutrition programs, public services, and economic supports for immigrants and their families at the local, state, and federal level.
The easiest way to stay in the loop on what’s happening with public charge is to join our email list at http://bit.ly/PIFCampaign. We use that list to send out regular updates and new resources.
To have your organization become more deeply involved as an Active Member of the PIF Campaign and participate in working groups, please visit http://bit.ly/PIFActivemember to find out more and sign up.
Please view our Organizational Sign on Statement in Opposition to the Proposed Public Charge Regulation, the statement included more than 1500 organizations across all fifty states and DC!
A pattern of attack on low-income immigrant families
Several legislative proposals in 2017 included provisions seeking to bar immigrant families from accessing basic health care and nutrition assistance. For example, Affordable Care Act “repeal and replace” legislation included provisions to bar additional classes of immigrants from purchasing insurance in the marketplace. Later in the year, the RAISE Act attempted to bar immigrant families from basic health care and nutrition assistance and created new barriers to naturalization simply for needing this help. The enacted tax bill included restrictions on children without Social Security numbers receiving the child tax credit.
Fighting an expanded “public charge” test
In 2018, a major goal of the campaign was to generate opposition to the proposed Department of Homeland Security (DHS) regulation regarding “public charge.” Current law authorizes a bar to entry or permanent legal status if an immigrant is likely to become dependent on cash “welfare” or long-term institutional care at government expense. But current policy does not consider an immigrant’s use of non-cash supports that help so many working families climb the economic ladder. The campaign was effective in our advocacy efforts to delay DHS from publishing a proposed rule, but in October 2018, the Administration issued a proposed rule to formally redefine public charge so that even modest receipt of programs including non-emergency Medicaid, SNAP, help paying for prescription drugs under Medicare Part D, and several housing programs can be counted against immigrants seeking a green card. It weighs a range of factors in deciding whether a person is likely to use certain public benefits in the future, and would make it much more difficult for low and moderate-income immigrants to get a green card, or extend or change their temporary status in the US.
The proposal would make—and has already made—immigrant families afraid to seek programs that support basic needs. This fear would extend far beyond people who may be subject to the “public charge” test. It would harm entire communities as well as the infrastructure that serves all of us. The proposed regulation would also mark a fundamental change from our nation’s historic commitment to welcoming immigrants. It would radically reshape our legal immigration system, putting the wealthy at the front of the line, ahead of hardworking families who have waited years to reunite.
The public comment period ended on December 10, 2018 with more than 216,000 public comments submitted -the vast majority in opposition. Thousands of organizations from more than 40 different sectors–immigrant rights, civil rights, health, nutrition, anti-poverty, early childhood, education, faith-based, elected officials, and many more – submitted deep, thoughtful comments that illustrate the harm the rule would cause. These comments are valuable both for delaying publication of the final rule and for creating an administrative record for future litigation. After DHS considers public comments received on the proposed rule, the agency will likely issue a final public charge rule. Any changes cannot take effect until at least 60 days after the date the final rule is published. In the meantime, and until a final rule is in effect, USCIS will continue to apply the current public charge policy.
With the ending of the public comment period on the public charge proposed rule, the Protecting Immigrant Families Campaign is shifting into a new stage. In 2019, our priorities are:
• Combat the chilling effect of Trump’s anti-immigrant agenda through community education, partnerships with government agencies, and shared messaging with immigration attorneys.
• Block and/or delay public charge proposed changes and other related policies from taking effect through continued advocacy, Congressional oversight and litigation.
• Build support for an affirmative vision of a nation where all are truly equal, immigration is recognized as a strength, and no one in America is denied the essentials of life because of where they were born.