From The Law Offices of Pooja Sethi, PLLC
On September 27th, 2018, the Trump Administration proposed to redefine “public charge”, which could deny citizenship status for many. 23.3% (or 52.3 million) people living in the USA rely on government assistance programs, such as Medicaid, Social Security, welfare, food stamps, etc. On September 27th, 2018 President Donald Trump announced a new rule which will undoubtedly impact the number of people that count on these programs. This rule regarding public charge states that any legal immigrant who wishes to change their status must have ever availed of a public charge, otherwise known as government assistance. This would mean that factors such as age (being over the age of 65), needing assistance to provide food and shelter, unable to have private health insurance, and other such factors will play a part in whether an immigration application will be approved or not. To back up this directive, the Trump administration has cited a 2012 study conducted by an organization that wants to add more restrictions upon immigrants.
The regulation is based on a law dating back over a hundred years. However, under the previous law, only a couple of factors - cash benefits and any long-term hospitalization - regarding government assistance are looked at in applications for status change. The new law would include denying status change to immigrants who need assistance with food stamps, tax credits, healthcare, and housing.
This new rule would affect immigrants’ access to welfare services and access to affordable healthcare. Many families, where the children are U.S. born citizens and parents are foreign born, would need to choose between providing healthcare for their children or staying together as a family. As a result, this ruling will impact children heavily.
This regulation would impact people with health conditions who rely on Medicaid to survive. Without the health care they receive from the government, they will have to pay out-of-pocket anytime they need to see a doctor or get a prescription medicine. Many of the individuals impacted by the rule have been in the U.S. for at least a decade and are applying for a green card or are applying for a visa status change.
This order has already had a significant effect on food stamp recipients. Since the leaked documents of this rule have been released, the number of immigrants cancelling their food stamps has dramatically increased. This rule has created a deep sense of fear among immigrants who worry that they may not even have enough money to put food on the table.
The Public Charge rule, which intends to prevent both legal and illegal immigration, would increase the tax burden of individual taxpayers. This would place an undue burden on immigrants, who tend to work more hours and jobs than native-born citizens. According to the bipartisan organization FWD.us, 66% of Immigrants work compared to 62% for American-born citizens. Due to this, immigrants, on average, pay a larger share of taxes. Because immigrants pay more, the economy is more stabilized. If immigrants were to stop coming into the USA due to rules such as this, it would cause a great deal of harm to the economy. As a result, Americans would be paying $1.46 for each dollar they save.
Many have criticized the directive, including Marielena Hincapie from the National Immigration Law Center, who says that what matters most is how an immigrant would add to their community, not whether they can or cannot afford basic needs. Other critics including Julie Linton, of the American Academy of Pediatrics Immigrant Health Special Interest Group, has stated that this rule will impact a nation that is made up of immigrants. Yet other critics, such as researchers at the Migration Policy Institute said that this would reduce immigration into the U.S., while also bringing down the non-white population.
While many will agree or disagree with this rule, it may be placed into law. The rule was published on October 10th and has a sixty day comment period wherein both opponents and supporters can voice their opinions. You can comment until December 10th on this website: https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2018/10/10/2018-21106/inadmissibility-on-public-charge-grounds. Until then, we can only speculate as to how it will impact immigrants living here and also those who want to enter the country.
Written by Shireen Kahlon of
The Law Offices of Pooja Sethi, PLLC