Public Charge

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Update:  Final Public Charge Rule Issued 

On August 12, 2019, the Department of Homeland Security announced that it had finalized the “public charge” rule.  The final public charge rule, like the proposed rule, will be devastating to — and explcitly discriminates against — people with disabilities and other health conditions their families who are seeking to enter the U.S. or applying for a green card.   This fact sheet from the Kaiser Family Foundation explains the final public charge rule.  Several lawsuits have aleady been filed challenging the final rule.  The public charge rule will become effective on October 15, 2019, if litigation doesn’t prevent the rule from going into effect.   Learn more about the final rule at the Protecting Immigrant Families Coalition website, and keep checking back here for updates.   

“Public Charge”

On Oct. 10, 2018, the Department of Homeland Security published a proposed “public charge” rule that would have devastating impacts on people with disabilities and chronic conditions trying to enter the United States or applying for a green card.  More than 260,000 comments were submitted opposing the changes. 

The final public charge rule was published in the federal register on August 14, 2019, with an effective date of October 15, 2019.  The final public charge rule is nearly identical to the harmful proposed rule.  The public charge rule will be devastating to people with disabilities and their families who are seeking to enter the U.S. or applying for a green card. The rule expressly discriminates against people with disabilities and chronic health conditions. This rule also means that an individual could be denied admission or have their application for lawful permanent residency denied because they used (or even might use in the future) a wide range of government programs, including Medicaid, housing assistance, or food assistance. Because Medicaid provides critical services that help people with disabilities live in the community and that are not generally available through private insurance, this rule would especially harm people with disabilities and their families. It not only could prevent them from entering the US or becoming permanent residents, but would discourage eligible families from using critical public services for fear of harming their immigration status.  Here is a summary of the final public charge rule and a document explaining who the rule does and does not impact.  

Lawsuits Challenging the Public Charge Rule

Since the final rule was announced, litigation to stop the rule has been filed across the country, including by:

California, together with the ME, OR, PA and DC (N.D. of California, filed 8/16/19) [includes disability claims]  

Washington State, together with VA, CO, DE, IL, MD, MA, MI, MN, NV, NJ, MN, and RI  (E.D. of Washington, filed 8/14/19) [refers to disability claims]

Counties of San Franscisco and Santa Clara, CA (N.D. of California, filed 8/13/19) 

La Clinica De La Raza, together with California Primary Care Association, Maternal and Child Health Access, Farmworker Justice, Council on American Islamic Relations-California, African Communities Together, Legal Aid Society of San Mateo County, CEntral American Resource Center and Korean Resource Center (N.D. of California, filed 8/16/19)

For updated resources and information, please visit Protecting Immigrant Families website.

Background

The “public charge” test is not new in federal immigration law. It is designed to identify people who may depend on government benefits as their main source of support. If the government determines someone is likely to become a “public charge,” the government can deny admission to the U.S. or refuse an application for lawful permanent residency.  However, under current law only a very narrow set of programs are considered in determining a “public charge” – cash assistance (such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)) and government funded institutional care (like Medicaid-funded nursing homes). 

The rule was published in the federal register and was officially open for public comment (a required step toward making this a binding federal regulation) through December 10, 2018.  Over 260,000 comments were submitted opposing the rule.

The final public charge rule will be devastating to people with disabilities.  It  greatly expands the benefits that count in the “public charge” test.  It would include many programs that help people meet basic needs, such as Medicaid, food assistance, housing assistance and comparable state and local programs.  Many people with disabilities and their families rely on these programs, especially Medicaid.  The rule also greatly expands how health — including disability — is considered.  Having a disability or chronic health condition is counted as a negative factor.  If a person does not have private insurance that would cover all the medical costs of a disability or chronic condition, that counts as a “heavily weighted” negative factor.  Because many important community services are only available through Medicaid and not covered by private insurance, this factor will also count against most people with disabilities.  

Data Resources on the Impact of the Public Charge Rule

Public Charge Webpages 

Stop Trump’s Cruel Attack on Immigrant Families – Protecting Immigrant Families

Public Charge and Immigrant Seniors – Justice in Aging

Statements Opposing the Final Public Charge Rule

Families USA

Center on Buget and Policy Priorities 

National Immigration Law Center

Georgetown University Health Policy Institute Center for Children and Families

Justice In Aging

MomsRising

Media on the Final Public Charge Rule

Trump officials move to deny greencards, path to citizenship for poor immigrants (Washington Post, 8/12/19)

Trump Policy  Favors Wealthier Immigrants for Green Cards (New York Times, 8/12/19)

Trump to deny green cards to immigrants receiving public benefits (Politico, 8/12/19)

Resources

Changes to “Public Charge” Inadmissibility Rule: Implications for Health and Health Coverage, Kaiser Family Foundation (Aug. 2019)

Public Charge:  A Threat to Immigrant Families, Protecting Immigrant Families (Aug. 2019)

Let’s Talk About Public Chrage , Protecting Immigrant Families (Aug. 2019)

Public Charge:  Getting the Help You Need, Protecting Immigrant Families (Aug. 2019)

Public Charge Webinar, Protecting Immigrant Families (Aug. 2019)

Trump Administration Threats Health care for Immigrant Families, Families USA (Aug. 2019)

How the Proposed Public Charge Rule Will Hurt People with Disabilities, CPR, The Arc, Autistic Self Advocacy Network

Explainer: Impact of the Public Charge Rule Change on People with Disabilities, The Arc, Autistic Self Advocacy Network, CPR

Proposed Changes to “Public Charge” Policies for Immigrants: Implications for Health Coverage, Kaiser Family Foundation

America’s Leading Health Plans Oppose Public Charge, Protecting Immigrant Families

Trump’s Public Charge: Poor, Disabled Immigrants Need Not Apply, Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund (DREDF)

Proposed Changes to Public Charge: Quick Analysis, Fact Sheet from Protecting Immigrant Families

Resources List from Protecting Immigrant Families

The Health Impact of the Proposed Public Charge Rules, Health Affairs (9/29/18)

DHS’ Proposed Rule: What May Change With Public Charge?, NHeLP (9/27/18)

Trump Targets Health of Immigrant Families In Seeking Change of Longstanding Immigration Law, NHeLP (9/24/18)

Public Charge: A Threat to the Health & Well-being of Older Adults in Immigrant Families Justice in Aging Fact Sheet (9/14/18)

Estimated Impacts of the Proposed Public Charge Rule on Immigrants and Medicaid, Kaiser Family Foundation (10/11/18)

A New Threat to Immigrants’ Health – The Public Charge Rule, New England Journal of Medicine (8/1/18)

Comments Submitted on the Proposed Rule

CPR Comments on the Proposed Public Charge Rule

NHeLP Comments on the Public Charge Rule

National Disability Rights Network Comments on the Public Charge Rule

Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities Comments on the Public Charge Rule

Access Living Comments on Proposed Changes to the Public Charge Rule

Justice In Aging Comments

Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund (DREDF) Comments

Autistic Self-Advocacy Network (ASAN) Comments

National Council on Aging Comments

Kaiser Permanente Comments

Community Catalyst Comments

Center for American Progress Comments

Opposition Statements on the Proposed Rule

Center for Public Representation

National Council on Independent Living

The Arc

Autistic Self Advocacy Network

Center for American Progress

Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD)

Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA)

American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD)

U.S. Conference of Mayors

Coalition on Human Needs

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