Note: This statement was updated in August 2020 to reflect the current status of this rule as halted, after the nationwide injunction issued by a federal judge in New York.
The Trump administration has revised immigration rules that forces families to choose between the things they need and the people they love. It is making usage of public benefit programs that help families thrive–programs like Medicaid, SNAP food assistance, public housing, among others–a potential disqualifier for immigration. The result: a sicker, hungrier, poorer nation, and an enormous step backwards from achieving health equity.
The rule was published in August 2019 and expected to take effect in October 2019. Multiple lawsuits were filed, and several federal courts issued injunctions, temporarily stopping the rule from being implemented while the cases made their way through the courts. In January 2020, the Supreme Court lifted the remaining nationwide injunction, meaning the rule change could be implemented. It went into effect on February 24, 2020. However, the ruling allowed lower courts to re-review the rule change, and on July 29, 2020, a federal judge in New York issued a nationwide injunction, due to the clear evidence that the public charge rule was harming public health during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The current status of the rule is: halted for the duration of the national health emergency, unless the Supreme Court takes action again.
The “public charge” rule previously was used in a very narrow way to deny entry to the US, a green card, or other legal status; this proposal expands how it’s applied. It allows officials to deny immigrants’ applications if they use public programs to get medical care, food, shelter and other basic necessities, or are 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 restricts legal immigration to only the wealthy few, shutting out the hard working families that enrich our communities and drive our economy. It has discouraged millions of eligible individuals across the country from receiving medical attention, while exacerbating financial insecurity, hunger, and homelessness. Thousands of Coloradans have already been directly affected, and our state is losing millions in economic activity. Many more have also 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?
- Share resources about the change with your community
- Join the Protecting Immigrant Families campaign
- Know Your Rights so you can stand up for them
- Let your elected representatives in Washington, DC know you want them to take action
Contact our deputy director, Maggie Gómez, for more information.