Note: This statement was updated in January 2020 to reflect the current status of this rule as finalized, but temporarily stopped from being implemented by a nationwide injunction.
The Trump administration has finalized a change to immigration rules that forces families to choose between the things they need and the people they love. It would make accessing public benefit programs that help families thrive–programs like Medicaid, SNAP food assistance, public housing, among others–a disqualifier for immigration. The result: a sicker, hungrier, poorer nation, and an enormous step backwards from achieving health equity.
A ruling by a federal district judge in New York in late 2019 temporarily stopped the rule from being put into effect, and the US Court of Appeals upheld that injunction in January 2020. This bars the rule from being put into effect while a lawsuit over the plan plays out in court. No changes have occurred or will occur until the rule goes into effect. Medicaid, SNAP, and housing benefits used before the effective date will not be considered under the new rule.
The “public charge” rule is currently used in a very narrow way to deny entry to the US, a green card, or other legal status; this proposal dramatically expands how it’s applied. It would allow officials to deny immigrants’ applications if they use public programs to get medical care, food, shelter and other basic necessities, or is predicted to use them in the future. Not using the public benefits they are entitled to will risk their health and the health of their family; however, using them will threaten their ability to pursue legal permanent residency.
Trump’s escalating attacks on immigrants are a rejection of our American values of family, community, and fairness. This change would restrict legal immigration to only the wealthy few, shutting out the hard working families that enrich our communities and drive our economy. It would potentially discourage millions of eligible individuals across the country from receiving medical attention, while exacerbating financial insecurity, hunger, and homelessness. Thousands of Coloradans would be directly affected, and our state would lose millions in economic activity. Many more have already been indirectly affected, due to the confusion and fear that this change stokes.
This isn’t the first time we’ve faced abuses like this, both in our nation’s history and from this administration. And just as we’ve done before, everyday Americans will rise up, speak out, and fight back. This is a fight for our values, our communities, and our nation’s soul. Our future depends on the success of our immigrant friends and neighbors, and if we reject this dangerous public charge rule and embrace policies that help immigrants and their families succeed, we all win.
Want to learn more about this rule change and what you can do? Join the Protecting Immigrant Families campaign. Also, let your elected representatives in Washington, DC know you want them to take action. Contact our deputy director, Maggie Gómez, for more information.