Earlier this spring, a proposed new federal rule was released that would make it harder for New Americans to thrive and to fully contribute to our communities and our economy.
This rule goes against our country’s basic values. Our government has held that certain supports, such as those that improve health, should be available to everyone who needs them. The rule also ignores how New Americans are contributing to our communities, as our neighbors who work, pay taxes, and learn alongside us. And this proposal would make it even harder for New Americans on their path to citizenship, and folks moving to the country trying to find new opportunities.
Currently, when people apply to move to the United States or apply to adjust their immigration status, like applying for a green card, the government determines whether that person has “public charge” status. This status is based on a number of factors, including age, health, family status, financial status, and skills, but also includes use or potential use of public supports. Currently only two types of supports are counted to determine “public charge” status: cash assistance (like Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, or TANF) and use of long-term care facilities. Having “public charge” status can make individuals ineligible to come to the United States or ineligible for lawful permanent resident status.
The new proposed rule would put many New Americans in an untenable position knowing they could harm their goals of getting a green card if they access basic supports that help them and their families to make ends meet. It would drastically expand what the government considers to make a “public charge” determination. The draft rule proposes adding supports like the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), Women, Infants, and Children nutritional assistance (WIC), and the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). In addition, it would take into account whether U.S. citizen children use these supports.
This proposal would likely create confusion around who can access basic supports that many of us turn to in times of need. Those harmed include the New Americans who are unsure whether they can still qualify for basic services, like food and housing assistance, as well as many children who might not get the supports they need to remain healthy and succeed in school.
This proposed rule is a mistake. New Americans are vital contributors to our communities, and they should be able to receive basic supports so that they can thrive and build our economy. The draft rule is expected to be included in the Federal Register by July. You will have an opportunity to have your concerns heard and comment on this proposal. Stay tuned.