Public Charge Rule Will Force Immigrant Families to Choose Between Vital Services and Access to Lawful Status

  on August 13, 2019

KIND opposes the Administration’s sweeping new “public charge” rule that will limit access to lawful permanent resident status or admission by certain immigrants if they use one or more federal public benefits specified in the rule, including food stamps, housing vouchers and assistance, and most forms of Medicaid. The regulation, which is expected to be formally published on Wednesday and to go into effect in October, marks a dramatic departure from current policy by redefining who meets the definition of a “public charge” and expanding the federal programs the government considers when making such determinations.

KIND submitted public comments in December 2018 urging withdrawal of a previously proposed version of the rule, highlighting concerns about a broad chilling effect that will deter vulnerable children and families from accessing basic services for which they are eligible, even if they are not subject to the public charge rule.

Under federal 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 can seek a waiver when they apply to adjust their status or gain admission to the U.S. These exemptions acknowledge the vulnerability of individuals seeking humanitarian protection and the realities that might confront them if they were unable to obtain assistance in meeting their basic needs and healing from trauma.

KIND remains concerned that the new rule will contribute to widespread fear of enrolling in or using vital public benefits, and believes that no child or family should have to choose between accessing services they need to survive and thrive, and stabilizing their immigration status.

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