About Public Charge

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Update: January 7, 2020 the New York Court upholds nationwide preliminary injunction.

What is the Proposed Rule to Public Charge?

Click Image for Breakdown of Public Charge

(Note – the rule is not yet law)

For over a century, our government has recognized that supporting health care, housing and nutrition programs can help immigrant families thrive, resulting in immigrant families contributing more to the economy than they require in public aid.

On August 14, 2019, the Department of Homeland Security’s final public charge rule was posted to the Federal Register for inspection, click HERE for link to final rule. This final rule change to “public charge” policies will govern how the use of public benefits may negatively affect individuals’ ability to obtain legal permanent resident (LPR) or “Green Card” status. The proposed rule would dramatically expand the public charge definition to include:

  • Non-emergency Medi-Cal
  • Medicare Part D subsidies
  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP/CalFresh),
  • Housing support (Section 8 Vouchers, rental assistance)

These programs protect our nation’s public health and prosperity by ensuring that all U.S. residents stay healthy, housed and productive, and can raise families who thrive and contribute to our nation’s vitality and economy.

Community Impact

Proposed changes to federal “public charge” policies may lead to fear and uncertainty among immigrant families about using public programs, which likely would drive down enrollment in Medicaid & CHIP, potentially by millions of people. In fact, the Kaiser Family Foundation states in a report released on October 12, “Decreased participation in Medicaid would increase the uninsured rate among immigrant families, reducing access to care and contributing to worse health outcomes. Coverage losses also would result in lost revenues and increased uncompensated care for providers and have spillover effects within communities.”

Additionally, the current administration’s portrayal of immigrants and prospective citizens as a drain on our economy is not supported by research. As just one example, a recent report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine indicates that second generation immigrants are among the strongest economic and fiscal contributors in the U.S. population, contributing more in taxes than either their parents or the rest of the native-born population.

Comment Period Now Closed

These changes are not only dangerous for the health and well-being of immigrant families but will have long-lasting negative effects on our community as a whole. The current administration’s change to the “public charge” rule has been published in the Federal Register and the 60-day comment period (October 10 – December 10, 2018) is now closed. Thank you to all who submitted a comment letter to oppose the proposed “public charge” regulation. Over 250,000 letters opposing the expansion to the public charge rule were submitted and every single letter was read and accounted for. In addition to the letters, in-person visits to our elected officials’ offices, roundtables, town halls, and social media campaigns were conducted as part of larger concentrated advocacy efforts to stop this rule from being published.

Where We Are Now

Due to multiple federal lawsuits, including one from our member health center La Clinica, three Federal Courts have stopped the public charge rule from going into effect.

UPDATE – While two of the three nationwide injunctions have been lifted, it’s important to note that the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals’ nationwide preliminary injunction instituted in New York still stands in place. Public charge is not in effect yet. 


Protecting Immigrant Families Updated Resources

      • Updated Fact Sheet: explaining the key elements of the new DHS finalized rule and the changes from the previous public charge policy.
    • Let’s Talk About Public Charge: A resource designed to help immigrants, mixed-status families, and communities understand the core elements of public charge.
    • Getting the Help You Need: A resource designed for people that work directly with immigrant families to help them understand whether they are subject to public charge.

For more, join the Protecting Immigrant Families campaign listserv to receive up to the minute news.

Important to note: Public charge rules currently do not apply to 1) lawful permanent residents who are applying for citizenship through naturalization, or 2) undocumented individuals, for the most part, as they would not take this legal path. For more information on who will not be affected, click HERE