FAQs

Q. What's happening with the Trump Administration's proposed "public charge" regulation?

On October 10, the Trump administration formally announced a proposed regulation that would dramatically broaden the “public charge” test that has been a part of federal immigration law for decades. The new rule could force immigrant families to choose between permanent legal status and their ability to access basic needs like healthy food, safe housing, and health care. Now, people across the country are speaking out against the inhumane policy by posting public comments on this extreme and cruel regulation. We have an opportunity to stop or disrupt this rule change, but we need to come together now and fight back. Take action by clicking here and submitting your public comment on or before December 10!

Q. What is the "public charge" test?

For many years the “public charge” test has been used to identify people who may depend on government benefits as their main source of financial support. If the government determines that someone is likely to become a “public charge,” that person can be refused permission to enter the U.S. and refused a green card.

Under the current policy, the only government benefits taken into account when determining who is likely to become a “public charge” are cash-assistance programs (including Supplemental Security Income and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) and government-funded, long-term institutional care.

Q. How would the "public charge" test change under the new regulation?

The proposed rule is a radical departure from longstanding immigration policy. If finalized in its proposed form, major changes would include:

  • New definition of “public charge.” The definition would change from someone who relies on the government as their main source of support to someone who participates in applicable health, nutrition or housing support programs.
  • More factors considered. In evaluating a person’s likelihood of becoming a public charge – with criteria including age, health, family status, and education – the proposal gives negative weight to children or seniors, persons with limited English proficiency, poor credit history, limited education, or a large family. The proposal also includes a radical new wealth test that would make it difficult for low- or moderate-income applicants (with income below 250 percent of the federal poverty line, or nearly $63,000 for a family of 4) to become green card holders.
  • Additional benefits included. The proposal expands the types of benefits that could be considered in a “public charge” test to include key programs that provide no income support but merely help participants address their basic needs. These programs include:
    • Medicaid (with limited exceptions including Medicaid coverage of an “emergency medical condition,” and certain disability services related to education);
    • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)(formerly “food stamps”);
    • Medicare Part D Low Income Subsidy (assistance in purchasing medicine);
    • Federal Public Housing, Section 8 housing vouchers, and Section 8 Project-Based rental assistance.

Q. How would immigrant families be impacted by the new regulation?

If finalized, the regulation would chill access to critical programs that help immigrants and their families access health care, food, and other essentials. These programs have improved participants’ health, wellbeing, school success, and economic security. The proposal would make—and has already made—immigrant families afraid to seek programs that support basic needs. One in four children have at least one immigrant parent. This issue touches millions, making it critical now and for our nation’s future.

How you live your life and contribute to your community should define you in this country, not how you look or how much money you have. New immigrants who work hard to make life better for themselves and for those who come here bring new ideas and new energy to our nation.

It is important to note that some groups of immigrants—such as refugees, asylees, groups—are not subject to “public charge” determinations, and charge is also not a consideration when lawful permanent residents (green card holders) apply to become U.S. citizens.

Q. How would the new regulation impact the United States at large?

By punishing families for accessing healthy food, health care, and housing, the regulation would make the United States sicker, hungrier, and poorer.

The United States is stronger when we join together across racial differences, like we’ve done in our past in fighting for civil rights or better wages and working conditions. Our diversity is our nation’s strength. And we know we can make a difference when Trump goes too far, like demanding an end to his family separation policy, to ensure that we end the abuse and assess each person’s immigration case fairly.

Q. How can I take action to protect immigrant families?

This policy is an extension of Trump’s larger effort to tear families apart, and we must work together again to fight back.

Federal law requires that the government read and consider every unique comment before issuing a final rule. These comments can help slow down the process and shape the Administration’s decisions. By submitting a comment, you are showing how many people care about this issue. Together, we can force the Trump Administration to justify its cruel proposal.

The rule is not yet final — but the clock is ticking — so we need to take action right now. Join tens of thousands of people by posting a public comment against the change. Take a few minutes now to post a public comment opposing this inhumane attack on the health and well-being of countless families, communities, and children. It’s up to us to speak out and generate as many comments as possible against the rule change.

Q. What is the Protecting Immigrant Families campaign?

The Protecting Immigrant Families, Advancing Our Future campaign is a collaboration between the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP), National Immigration Law Center (NILC), and thousands of advocates across the country working to fight back.

The easiest way to stay in the loop on what’s happening with public charge is to join our listserv 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.