The administration is trying to keep immigrants out of the U.S. and penalize immigrants already here by drastically expanding how they define a “public charge.” Before they can make this change, they must allow the public to comment on the proposed regulation in the Federal Register. That’s where you come in – we need as many people as possible to post their comments in the Federal Register opposing these changes and lifting up how immigrants contribute to U.S. communities and the economy. These changes are an extension of Trump’s efforts to tear families apart, and we must work together again to fight back.
Background: A public charge is someone who is generally dependent on the government for subsistence, due to their inability to work and lack of other financial resources or support. Under the “public charge provision” in U.S. immigration law, individuals who are likely to become a public charge are inadmissible to immigrate to the United States; immigrants already in the United States who have been, or are likely to become, public charges are not eligible for permanent residency (green card) status. However, when an immigrant who has obtained a green card is applying to become a naturalized citizen of the United States, the government will not consider their use of benefits at all.
The Trump administration is trying to penalize immigrants who use health, nutrition, housing, and other critical services – forcing people to have to choose between the wellbeing of their family and the ability to stay in the U.S. We know that a person’s dignity is not determined by how much money they have. Immigrants are our friends, family members, and neighbors. They contribute to their communities. Once again, the Trump administration has gone too far, trying to change the rules for families who just want to be together and make a life for themselves by:
- Considering cash AND non-cash government assistance like health care, nutrition, and housing programs. For instance, using the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), housing assistance, or having a costly medical condition could stop someone from getting a green card.
- Considering criteria such as age, health, income, and education when determining if someone may be a public charge in the future, which would negatively impact those with limited English proficiency or physical or mental health conditions.
- Adopting a new threshold for households that hope to overcome a “public charge” test – by requiring that the immigrant (not just the sponsor) earn at least 125 percent of the Federal Poverty Level – and by weighing as “heavily positive” a household income of 250 percent of the Federal Poverty Level. This means, to avoid scrutiny under the public charge test, a family of 4 would need to earn nearly $63,000 annually.
Take Action! You can help in these 4 ways:
- Submit Public Comment: Individuals and organizations can make their voices heard about how the proposed rules would affect them and the communities they serve. Here is sample language that you should feel free to adapt and post as your own public comment.
- Click here to submit your own unique comment (copy/paste and/or attach your comment as a PDF, share your contact information, and click submit).
- Click here to submit a template comment (scroll down to “Submit a Comment” to share your contact information, edit the template comment, and click “Submit Comment”).
- Call Congress: Insert your information on the right-hand side and click “call me” to let your 2 Senators and 1 Representative know you oppose these changes and want Congress to stop them. Sample Script: “As your constituent, I am opposed to the administration’s proposed rule change that would broaden the definition of ‘public charge’ to keep families separated and immigrants out. I ask you to oppose these changes and to do everything in your power to prevent the administration from implementing them.”
- Document the Impact! Our partners at the National Immigration Law Center (NILC) want to know about people who may be avoiding needed services because of fears related to public charge or immigration enforcement. It will be helpful to document the impact of this fear on individuals, families, communities, clinics, food banks, public health, businesses, and the local economy. Please share these stories via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Educate the Public about the importance of family unity and the value of ensuring that everyone has access to essential services! These proposed changes are part of the continual attack on family-based immigration. Families provide the support that helps newcomers find work and start businesses, complete their education, provide care for children or aging family members, and ensure that the household can participate fully in the local economy. Please use these sample social media posts to spread the word.
For more information, please visit: https://protectingimmigrantfamilies.org/
- CWS Public Comment on the Proposed Rule
- CWS Press Release (October 10, 2018)
- Join the Protecting Immigrant Families Campaign
- Interfaith Immigration Coalition Toolkit
- CLINIC Factsheet
- Guidance when speaking with immigrant families
- Addressing Concerns of Refugees
- Public Charge Fact Sheet
- FAQ Document
- Taking Part in the Federal Rulemaking Process
- Analysis of Proposed Changes
- Proposed Rule Text
- Protecting Immigrant Families Public Toolkit
- Organizational Sign On Letter