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Public Charge Rule Forces Impossible Choice for Young Immigrants

September 24, 2018
Contact: Paydon Miller | (202) 734-6543

Public Charge Rule Forces Impossible Choice for Young Immigrants

Washington, DC – On Saturday night, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security released a draft rule that would make drastic changes to the system currently used to determine legal permanent residence (LPR) eligibility. The proposed rule would significantly broaden the criteria under which an applicant for LPR status would be considered a “public charge,” a test to determine whether an individual applying for LPR status is likely to depend on government assistance as a primary source of income. As a result, this could put an applicant at risk of being denied LPR status or considered for deportation.

For decades, the designation of “public charge” has been strictly limited to direct cash assistance from the federal government. The new draft rule would expand the criteria to include programs that low-income immigrants can access legally while on the path to both permanent residence and financial stability, including assistance accessing health care through Medicaid, nutrition through SNAP, and housing through Section 8 vouchers.

In response to the draft rule announcement, Allie Aguilera Young Invincibles’ Policy and Government Affairs Manager, issued the following statement:

“Let’s call this rule what it is: a thinly veiled attempt to stratify immigration along income lines and to dissuade low-income, and disproportionately black and brown, immigrants from using financial assistance programs that they are legally eligible for.

The Trump administration does not believe that everyone deserves quality, affordable health care, regardless of income, race, or immigration status– but young people do. It does not think you can be both hardworking and hungry– but young people have lived it. And it does not believe that your income shouldn’t determine your potential– but young people know better.

Our generation has been here before: being forced to weigh their health against feeding themselves, against pursuing their dreams. This time they’ll be forced to weigh meeting their basic needs against the threat of being separated from their families. To codify these impossible choices for our immigrant brothers and sisters, under the guise of self-sufficiency, is callous, fiscally irresponsible, and will harm the health of our entire nation, and young people will fight back every time.”