In yet another cruel attack on immigrants and their families, the Trump-Pence Administration released a new “public charge” rule meant to intimidate immigrant families, prevent them from making a secure and permanent home in the United States, and stop them from seeking access to health care, nutrition, and housing through public benefit programs which could mean the difference between life and death.

What Is Public Charge?

The term “public charge” is used by U.S. immigration officials to refer to a person who is considered likely to become “primarily dependent on the government for subsistence.”
When a person applies to enter into the U.S. or adjust their status to become a permanent resident (or “green card” status) they are evaluated by immigration officials who look at a variety of factors—such as age, health, family status, financial status, education and skills, and use of public benefits—to determine if they are a public charge.

What Happens If The Proposed Change Becomes Final?

It would force immigrant women and children to make an impossible decision between meeting basic needs, such as health care, and keeping their families together. The impact would be particularly harsh on pregnant and postpartum women, children, seniors, and people with disabilities who may decline to enroll in Medicaid and other programs their tax dollars support, resulting in poorer maternal and child health, education, and financial outcomes.

A person who is deemed a public charge can be denied permanent residence or entry into the United States — or even deported.

What Can You Do?

The proposed public charge rule is an attempt to enact anti-immigrant policy without congressional oversight. But you can provide oversight!
The government is required by law to review each and every public comment on the proposed regulation. Make your voice heard by submitting a comment to disrupt and stop the Trump-Pence Administration’s attack on families, communities, and children.
There’s no time to waste: We need you to submit public comments to the Department of Homeland Security saying no to public charge by December 10th.
NIRH has provided sample text for your public comment, which you can copy and paste into the comment box here. Making sure your message personal by adding your own thoughts or story will make the most impact.

Dear Ms. Deshommes,

I am writing to urge the Department of Homeland Security to immediately withdraw the “public charge” proposed rule.

The proposed policy will have a devastating, long-term effect on the health, economic security, and well-being of millions of immigrant women, children, and families. Immigrant families are vital members of our communities and society. Threatening to deny permanent residency status or entry to immigrants who use public benefits programs that their tax dollars support, such as Medicaid, SNAP, or housing is cruel, punitive, and wrong. This proposed rule will make families even more afraid to seek access to healthy food, health care, and housing and lead to poorer health, education, and financial outcomes for already vulnerable individuals such as children, seniors, and people with disabilities.

Further, the proposed rule is inconsistent with the 1999 guidance the federal government issued which narrowed the scope and applicability of the public charge clause. This proposed rule is the latest attempt by the Trump-Pence Administration to radically reshape our legal immigration system without congressional oversight. If this rule moves forward, in addition to having a negative effect on the health and safety of millions of immigrants, it will also chip away at existing infrastructure, institutions, and American values of opportunity and diversity.

I strongly oppose the “public charge” proposed rule and urge you to withdraw it.