Proposed Changes Will Hurt Families, Communities
This week, the Federal Office of Management and Budget (OMB) will release proposed regulations that will drastically change the “public charge” rules that apply to immigrants legally seeking permanent resident status in the U.S.
If the proposed rule is finalized, this change would be a dangerous departure from policies established to support families. For more than 100 years, the U.S. government has recognized that social supports like health care and nutrition help families thrive and remain productive, and the government has long clarified that immigrant families can seek health and nutrition benefits for eligible families without fear of harming their immigration case.
If this rule is finalized, families will no longer have that assurance.
For several months, Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy has been working with families who are afraid to use public assistance programs they are eligible to receive due to fears that using those benefits will harm their ability to adjust immigration status or even get them deported. This rule will only create more confusion for these families already living in fear and make them more vulnerable to exploitation.
We are certain that many more families will decline critical access to nutrition, healthcare and housing they are eligible to receive if these new proposed changes go into effect. If finalized, this harsh rule will place unnecessary strain on community resources as more families struggle to remain stable.
What we know:
The proposed rule expands the types of benefits considered to include those supporting basic needs like health, food, income and housing including:
Medicaid (except for “emergency Medicaid” and certain disability services related to education)
- Medicare Part D Low Income Subsidy
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps)
- Benefits provided for institutionalization for long-term care
- Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program
- Section 8 Project-Based Rental Assistance, and
- Public Housing.
Public benefits not included:
- Emergency medical assistance
- Disaster relief
- National school lunch or school breakfast programs
- Foster care and adoption
- Head Start
- Child Health Insurance Program (CHIP or SCHIP)
- Earned Income Tax Credit or Child Tax Credit
- Subsidized health insurance under the Affordable Care Act
- Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)
- Housing assistance, or
- Energy benefits.
- Unlike leaked versions of the draft rule, the proposed rule DOES NOT consider U.S. citizen children or other dependent household members using public benefits. This means their continued use will NOT affect a parent or family member’s application for immigration status.
Some immigrant groups are not subject to “public charge” at all:
Public charge is NOT a consideration when lawful permanent residents (green card holders) apply to become U.S. citizens.
Certain immigrants, such as refugees, asylees, survivors of domestic violence and other protected groups are not subject to “public charge” and would not be affected by this proposed rule.
The proposed rule also makes it clear that it will not apply to deportability at all, meaning that immigrants who already have a form of lawful resident status cannot be deported for use of any public benefit. The proposed rule does say that the Department of Justice may release its own criteria for deportation, but it has not done so at this time.
This rule will still harm low-income and working families across North Carolina. The latest public charge draft rule still seeks to undermine a family-based immigration system, using executive rules to penalize immigrant families who earn low incomes.
Regardless of whether they use any public benefits under the proposed rule, working immigrants can still be penalized just for having an income under 125 percent of the federal poverty line. The rule makes it clear that there will be broader, additional scrutiny of an immigrant’s economic situation, considering their credit history or lack thereof.
And having a financial sponsor is no longer guaranteed to ensure that an immigrant’s application for status will be approved. Immigrants who work hard every day in all facets of our state’s workforce, including agriculture, construction, caregiving, and hospitality, will be penalized just because they do not earn a living wage.
We still need your comments to oppose this damaging rule.
When the proposed rule is published, a 60-day public comment period will begin. You can prevent this change from happening by submitting comments opposing this rule and asking your networks to do the same. You can let policy makers know that these changes will negatively impact the health and well-being of local children, their families and our communities.
Join our campaign to protect immigrant families. Building a strong community means helping families thrive. This rule only ensures a poorer, sicker, hungrier community. Family safety and unity should not have to come at the expense of stability.