What is public charge?
The Department of Homeland Security has proposed changes to the definition of “public charge” that would expand the criteria that apply when a person is applying for admission to the United States or seeking a green card or legal permanent residency.
Historically, those applying for permanent status must demonstrate that they will not be dependent on government programs (cash benefits like Temporary Assistance to Needy families/TANF, SSI and long-term care). The proposed regulation would expand the list of federal benefits that the government may consider as part of its process, to include:
- Medicare Part D (low income subsidy for prescriptions)
- Federal Housing (Section 8 housing vouchers and any Section 8 housing)
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly known as Food Stamps)
ICHS believes this proposal undermines public health and humanitarian values as it continues to attack immigrants seeking legal residence in the U.S.
Our communities must make public comments by December 10 to stop or delay the adoption of this proposal. All comments have to be reviewed by the government prior to adoption. ICHS urges patients, families and communities to stay calm and take action to:
- STOP FINAL ADOPTION OF THE NEW REGULATION. ICHS is working with Protecting Immigrant Families, Association of Asian Pacific Community Health Organizations and the National Association of Community Health Centers to try and stop the proposal’s final adoption by generating as many public comments as possible by the Dec. 10 deadline. You can submit as many comments as you want, but each comment must be unique.
- GET THE SUPPORT AND BENEFITS YOU NEED NOW. The proposed rule is not in effect and will take months to be adopted because of the public comment, review and response period that the federal government has to legally observe. Anyone currently legally qualified to participate in Medicaid, Medicare Part D, public housing and SNAP is still qualified to use them.
- NOT ALL IMMIGRANTS ARE SUBJECT TO THE “PUBLIC CHARGE” TEST. Exempt are U.S. citizens; green card holders; refugees; asylees (applying for or granted asylum); people applying for green cards under the Violence Against Women Act; survivors of trafficking, domestic violence, or other serious crimes (those who have or are applying for “U” or “T” visas); and children seeking Special Immigrant Juvenile Status.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
The City of Seattle has created an overview with Frequently Asked Questions and resources.