Carga Publica / Public Charge

The Trump administration wants to make it so only the wealthiest can make the US their home. They want to force immigrants to choose between their health, housing, and food assistance and keeping their families together. We have until December 10th to submit public comment against these changes.

What is Public Charge?

Public Charge is an existing rule used by immigration officials when determining Legal Permanent Residency applications (the green card) based on family petitions or employment, or Visa applications when seeking to enter the country. “Public Charge” refers to a person who is considered likely to become primarily dependent on the government for subsistence. The Public Charge rule does NOT apply to Refugees, Asylees, Survivors of Domestic Violence (VAWA), Crime Victims (Visa U, SIJS). It does NOT apply when lawful permanent residents (green card holders) apply for U.S. citizenship.

Current Public Charge Rule

Immigration officials take into consideration an applicant’s Age, Health, Family status, Financial status, Education and skills, Affidavit of support and whether the applicant has received Cash assistance for income maintenance (i.e. SSI, general assistance) or have they been institutionalized for long-term care.

What change does the Trump administration want to implement?

The Trump administration wants to change the current public charge rule to harm immigrants through an agency rule change process. This process requires the government to accept and review public comment for 60 days before proceeding with the rule change.

The proposed new Public Charge rule would:

  • Define “public charge” as an immigrant who receives one or more public benefits.
  • Implement a new question to determine Public Charge: “will the applicant in the future likely be dependent upon one or more of the public benefits on the new list?”
  • Define a “public benefit” for Public Charge purposes as:
    • Non-emergency medicaid, SNAP (food stamps), Medicare Part D Low Income Subsidy, Housing Assistance (public housing or Section 8 housing vouchers and rental assistance)
      • No other public services or benefits (like WIC, EITC, Disaster Relief etc.) would count against an individual for public charge purposes
    • Expand the consideration of Public Charge to individuals within the country who seek to adjust their visa status
    • Weigh positive and negative factors in the following categories: ✓Age ✓Health ✓Family status ✓Financial status ✓Education and skills ✓Affidavit of support
      • Age: Being under 18 or over 61 would be considered a negative factor
      • Health: Medical conditions that will likely interfere with ability to work and require extensive medical treatment or institutionalization will be considered a negative factor
      • Financial Status: Receiving one or more public benefits will be heavily weighted as a negative factor. Earning less than 125% of the Federal Poverty Guideline would be considered a negative factor.
      • Education and skills: Not having a high school or higher education would be a negative factor.
    • The receipt of public benefits by U.S. citizen children (or any child) will not directly be a factor in a parents’ public charge test. ● If a child is an immigrant, his/her/their own use of benefits counts toward his/her/their own public charge determination.
    • These changes will NOT impact Refugees, Asylees, Survivors of Domestic Violence (VAWA), Crime Victims (Visa U, SIJS), or lawful permanent residents (those who have a green card) when applying for citizenship.

When will the Public Charge rule change occur?

These rule changes are only a proposal. The government is required to submit possible rule changes to the public and allow comments for 60 days. The administration submitted the rule on October 10 and the public has until December 10 to submit their comment. The new rule will only be implemented until the government reviews the comments and publishes the final law

Stop the attack: Submit your comment against these proposed changes!

  1. Go to protectingimmigrantfamilies.org
  2. Write your comment against the change in your own words. Explain how you, your loved ones, or your community would be impacted and why you disagree with the change. Each comment must be UNIQUE to count as a new comment.
  3. You only need to include your name, email, and zip code!

Points you can include in your comment:

  • This change favors the wealthy. Our ability to call the US home with our families shouldn’t be based on how much we have.
  • This change would force immigrants to choose between their health, housing, and food assistance and keeping their families together
  • We are all better off when our neighbors get enough food to eat, the healthcare they need, and safe housing.
  • This rule change would disproportionately impact the most vulnerable people in our community, including people with disabilities, children, older adults, and families who are struggling financially.
  • This rule would disproportionately impact immigrants of  color
  • If implemented, this rule could harm families for generations
  • This proposed regulation will have devastating consequences for all members of an immigrant family, regardless of whether some are citizens or not: We’ve already seen families un-enroll from vital programs out of fear that participation will harm their family’s chance at a permanent future here.




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