Call for Public Comments to Oppose the Proposed Expanded Definition of Public Charge

Public charge is a ground of inadmissibility that is currently defined as an individual who is likely to become primarily dependent on the government for subsistence as demonstrated by the receipt of public cash assistance (SSI, TANF, and state and local cash assistance) or long-term institutionalization.

On September 22, 2018, the Department of Homeland Security proposed an expanded definition of the public charge ground of inadmissibility for immigrants who are obtaining or maintaining certain immigration status.

The proposed expanded definition broadened the public charge inadmissibility rule by stating that an immigrant will be deemed inadmissible if he or she is likely to receive one or more of the following public benefits:

  • SSI
  • Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
  • State and local cash assistance
  • Long-term medical institutionalization
  • Non-emergency Medicaid (with exceptions)
  • Medicare Part D Low Income Subsidy
  • SNAP (food stamps)
  • Section 8 housing: Housing Choice Voucher and Project-Based Rental Assistance
  • Public Housing

There is no waiver for a finding of a public charge ground of inadmissibility.  This proposed rule will affect only applicants for adjustment of status (“green card” applicants), applicants for immigrant visas, applicants for nonimmigrant visas (ex: B1/B2, E-2, F-1, H-1B, J‑1, K-1, L-1, etc.), returning lawful permanent residents, and applicants for change or extension of nonimmigrant status.

With one in four American children having at least one immigrant parent, this proposed rule has the potential to negatively affect millions, including many of our clients, family members, colleagues, and neighbors.  If implemented as written, the proposed rule would prevent immigrants from securing lawful permanent residence and remaining with their families in the United States, simply because at any time in the past, they received some type of basic health care support, nutrition assistance, or other vital services.  This also includes individuals with pre-existing conditions or who are suspected to utilize any public assistance in the future.

Before this proposed public charge rule becomes final law, the public has 60 days, or until December 10, 2018, to submit comments for review and consideration by DHS.  Public officials across the nation, including health administrators and city leaders, have spoken out against the proposed expansion of public charge.

Accordingly, U.S. Immigration Law Group, LLP is encouraging all interested individuals and stakeholders to be engaged and submit a unique comment in opposition to the proposed expanded definition of public charge at the following link:

Please see below some sample comments from immigration advocacy groups including National Immigration Law Center, Immigrant Legal Resource Center, and Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. to use as a starting point to craft your own unique comment to oppose this harmful proposed rule.

  • No family should have to make the choice between immigration status, stability, and protection or receiving public benefits that keep their families fed, healthy and sheltered. This proposed rule would hurt families and the communities they live in, forcing localities to try to meet these vital humanitarian needs through social services if any are available.[1]
  • Our lives should be defined by how we contribute to our communities, not by what we look like or how much money we have. If this regulation moves forward, only the wealthiest immigrants could build a future in the United States.[2] 
  • This plan will damage the American economy by jeopardizing the ability of hard-working, entrepreneurial immigrants from obtaining permanent residence. Overwhelming nonpartisan evidence and analysis show that working-class immigrants are essential to a strong U.S. economy. They elevate GDP, boost tax revenue, grow the Social Security and Medicare trust funds, and create jobs for native-born American workers on a wide scale. This proposed rule would weaken our economy by creating arbitrary barriers to lawful status for those who may be just starting out on their path to economic prosperity.[3]
  • The regulation would make immigrant families afraid to seek access to healthy food, health care, and housing. This fear would extend far beyond people who may be subject to the “public charge” test. It would harm entire communities as well as the infrastructure that serves all of us. The regulation assumes you can accurately divide people into permanent classes of contributors and non-contributors. This is totally inconsistent with the history of immigration in our country.[4]

By submitting your own unique comment by December 10, 2018, you are directly participating in the democratic process by voicing your opposition to the burdensome expansion of the public charge definition.

Should you have any questions about the current and proposed public charge definition and how it may affect your immigration status, please do not hesitate to contact our office at (714) 786-1166

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