Proposed Changes to Public Charge: An Appalling Disregard for Humanity

by KIND Press Release   on September 26, 2018

The Administration’s recent proposal restricting access to lawful permanent resident status or admission for certain immigrants if they use critical federal assistance programs and benefits would gravely harm children, families, communities, and our immigration system.

“Ensuring that children and families have enough to eat and that they can access healthcare, and housing is absolutely critical,” said KIND President Wendy Young. “The Administration’s latest attack further harms children, undermines family unity, and threatens to destabilize communities.”

The draft regulation, which broadly expands what is known as the “public charge” rule, would modify longstanding policy by expanding both the definition of who is a “public charge” and the programs the government takes into account when making such determinations.

Under current policy, the government considers whether someone is primarily dependent on cash assistance or government-funded long-term institutional care. The proposed rule would broaden this consideration to encompass other specified federal programs, including housing vouchers and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, commonly referred to as “food stamps”). SNAP offers nutrition assistance to millions of eligible, low-income individuals and families and provides economic benefits to communities.

“Immigrant children and families in our country are already experiencing extraordinary fear,” Young said. “Fear of possible changes in policy has contributed to a chilling effect in the use of critical programs by those in need, including children.”

Pursuant to law, some immigrants, including refugees, asylees, special immigrant juveniles, and certain survivors of trafficking, domestic violence, and other serious crimes who are applying for or holders of related visas, are exempt from “public charge” considerations or may seek waivers when they apply for lawful permanent residence or admission to the U.S. These statutory provisions reflect the unique vulnerability of populations seeking humanitarian protection, such as unaccompanied children, who often are healing from deep trauma with little or no means of support.

“If this rule goes into effect, we will be scaring immigrant and refugee children and families away from accessing basic services for which they are eligible, said Young. “Child survivors of trauma, which many of KIND’s children are, desperately need access to counseling and other services. This is yet another example of the Trump Administration’s appalling disregard for basic humanity and of its relentless attacks on immigrant and refugee children and families.”

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