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Fact Sheet
September 2018

Trump Administration's "Public Charge" Rule is an Assault on the American Dream and Our Nation's Values

Earlier this week, the Trump Administration released a new draft regulation impacting people who are seeking to immigrate legally into the United States.
 
Under current law, certain individuals seeking residency in the United States may be denied visa status and permanent resident status, if they are deemed likely to become a “public charge.”
Under current regulation, a visa applicant or someone applying to adjust their status may be deemed a public charge if they are or may become ‘‘primarily dependent on the government for subsistence, as demonstrated by either the receipt of public cash assistance for income maintenance or institutionalization for long-term care at government expense.’’
 
Under the new proposed rule, the “public charge” definition would be dramatically broadened to make it harder for immigrants following all legal requirements to enter the country and advance through the immigration process. The proposed rule would deny entry or permanent legal status for immigrants who may receive one or more public benefits including, for the first time, Medicaid, and Medicare Part D low-income subsidies. The administration also is considering adding the Children’s Health Insurance Program to the list of programs that would count toward a public charge determination.
 
Further, the new rule would discriminate against people with preexisting conditions. Specifically, regardless of enrollment in any particular program or being uninsured, low-income immigrants with a medical condition that may require extensive treatment and are unable to cover the cost of such treatment could be denied permanent legal status.

Potentially Affected Families 

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, in 2016, there were 23 million noncitizens residing in the U.S. One quarter of children in the US–approximately 19 million children–live with an immigrant parent; 86 percent of these children are citizens. In 2016, 1.2 million people attained permanent resident status.

Impact of Rule on Families, Communities, and Society

This new rule isn’t simply a technical change to US immigration policy. It represents the introduction of a policy that continues the rewriting of core American values–a country that welcomes hard-working people who want to improve their lives and contribute to our nation–to a country that takes the bootstraps away from vulnerable families. This proposal would change core public policy designed to help immigrants become fully actualized members of society by making immigrants chose between the health of their children and other family members and their ability to progress through the immigration process.
 
Conservatives have said they just want immigrants to “follow the rules” of the United States. The families affected by this rule are entering the country legally, finding employment–often in low-wage, strenuous, and dangerous jobs–and are paying their taxes. So often, these difficult jobs offer little or no health or other benefits. In such instances, public programs represent a lifeline for these families to ensure the health and well-being of their children and other family members.
 
This rule is moving the goal posts on families just trying to improve their lives. Under this rule:
  • Parents are asked to make an agonizing choice: keep their children healthy by enrolling them in health coverage and risk having to leave the United States, or forgoing needed health care to keep their legal residency.
  • Employers will have a much harder time finding required labor to meet the needs of our growing economy.
  • Low- and moderate-income seniors, who have been paying into Social Security like all other taxpayers, would have to choose between Medicare subsidies that enable them to afford medicine and doctors’ visits and their green card eligibility.
  • All Americans are affected when families are too afraid to seek treatment for their medical conditions–including increased costs to our health care system due to delayed care.
 
Many in our country were raised in religious and spiritual traditions that insist it is the role of everyone to take care of the most vulnerable among us. This rule fails that basic test of compassion.

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