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What Is Trump’s Public Charge Rule

Damage From The Rule Has Already Been Done

Trump Adviser Indicted For Contempt | Zerlina.

Some federal programs are open to all immigrants regardless of status, including the National School Lunch Program the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children and Head Start. Some immigrants can also become eligible for Social Security benefits and Medicare once they reach a certain age.

But means-tested welfare programs federal public benefits for those in poverty including Medicaid, CHIP, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program , Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, and Supplemental Security Income are primarily reserved for naturalized and US-born citizens, green card holders, refugees, and asylees.

Unauthorized immigrants and most people with temporary immigration status, such as employment-based visas, are ineligible, and green card holders have to wait five years before becoming eligible . Notably, former Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee for president, has proposed eliminating the five-year waiting period for green card holders.

All of this means that relatively few immigrants would end up being penalized, under the final version of the rule, for using public assistance. But the rule has already been effective in dissuading many immigrants from continuing to access the public benefits they need.

Unfortunately, I think a lot of the damage has already been done through the rhetoric and the media cycles around the various proposals, Quinn said.

Impacts Of The 2019 Trump Administration Changes

Research also suggests that immigration-related fears haveaffected willingness to access COVID-19 vaccines. For example, KFF COVID-19 Vaccine Monitor survey data from May 2021 found that almost 4 in 10 unvaccinated Hispanic adults said they were concerned that they may be required to provide a government-issued identification or Social Security number to get vaccinated and about one third were concerned that getting the vaccine would negatively affect their own or a family members immigration status.

It Is Important To Know

  • All New Yorkers in need of medical care, food assistance, and other benefits and services should seek the help they need without fear. Many health and social servicesincluding COVID-19 testing, vaccinations, and care, food assistance, tenant protection, and free legal helpare available to New Yorkers no matter your immigration status or ability to pay. View more information or call 311 to learn about available services and resources in your language.
  • Public charge policy does not affect eligibility requirements for public benefits. Many immigrants do not face a public charge test in their immigration applications. There is no public charge test for green card holders applying for citizenship.

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Trump Administration Cracks Down On Legal Immigrants Receiving Public Assistance

The Department of Homeland Security previously defined “public charge” as someone who depended on cash assistance or government-funded long-term institutional care. The new rule expands the definition to include additional benefits such as food stamps, non-emergency Medicaid, certain prescription drug subsidies and housing vouchers.

And the rule would now define public charge as any immigrant household that uses or is deemed likely to use at some point one public benefit for 12 months during a 36-month period. Receipt of two public benefits in one month counts as two months, the rule noted.

Once labeled a “public charge,” immigrants could be denied green cards, visas and other forms of legal immigration status.

The Trump administration argues that expanding the meaning of “public charge” helps “protect American taxpayers” and ensures “that noncitizens in this country are self-sufficient and not a strain on public resources.”

The Public Charge Rule Explained

Case challenging Trump

The US has been able to reject prospective immigrants who are likely to become a public charge dependent on the government for support since 1882, but since World War II, few immigrants were turned away using that criteria. In 1999, the Clinton administration issued guidance that said only cash benefits, which very few immigrants use, would be considered in making the determination.

The Trump administration is defining public charge much more broadly, giving immigration officials at US Citizenship and Immigration Services and US Customs and Border Protection a laundry list of factors to consider. And the new rule allows individual immigration officials to implement thiscomplicated, 217-page regulation as they see fit.

The rule gives individual, low-level officials much more vetting power than they have had previously, and injects a lot of uncertainty into the green card process, impacting who is allowed toenter and remain in the US as a lawful permanent resident.

Lower court rulings had argued that the public charge rule conflicts with how federal immigration law has been interpreted for two decades and appears to ignore the tens of thousands of public comments that opposed it.

The Los Angeles Times reported that some immigrants with children enrolled in special education programs withdrew them from school and that refugees and asylum seekers dropped out of food assistance programs.

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Biden Administration Moves To Replace Trump Public Charge Rule

The Biden administration on Friday moved forward to formally replace the Trump administrations public charge rule, which barred many prospective immigrants from using social services.

The Department of Homeland Security issued a request for public comments on a new regulation to define how immigration officers can determine whether green card applicants are likely to become a public charge.

The move is the latest in a series of reforms that the Biden administration has taken to dismantle former President Trumps immigration policies.

Among those policies, DHS under Trump tightened the definition of public charge so that immigration officers could reject applicants who had used, or could potentially use, services like food stamps.

The Biden Administration today took a step to ensure immigrants and their families can access health care, food assistance, and other needs, said Shelby Gonzales, vice president for immigration policy at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

The Trump-era policy has not been in place since March, when DHS halted implementation of the rule and the Department of Justice announced it would no longer defend the rule against an array of lawsuits challenging it.

Still, the Immigration and Nationality Act requires officials to take into account whether a prospective immigrant could become a public charge, without explicitly defining the term.

Trumps Public Charge Rule Created Harm Even Before It Was Implemented

THE TORCH: CONTENTSHolly Straut-Eppsteiner MARCH 2, 2020

In September 2018, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security proposed a new set of regulations that would make drastic changes to determinations regarding which immigrants are eligible to be admitted as lawful permanent residents in the United States. The final rule, which has taken effect for applications submitted within the U.S. on or after February 24, 2020, substantially changes the criteria by which public charge determinations are made and, as a result, who has access to permanent lawful status in the country.

Previously, an individuals likelihood of being designated a public charge that is, deemed likely to become primarily dependent on government support in the future was based on reliance on public cash assistance for monthly income or long-term institutionalization at government expense. Widely regarded as a wealth test, the new rule expands public charge determinations to include several new criteria, including new income thresholds, age, health, education, and use of noncash benefits such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program , nonemergency Medicaid , and housing assistance. Litigation challenging the rule is ongoing.

Holly Straut-Eppsteiner is NILCs Mellon/ACLS Public Fellow and research program manager.

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Dedicated Immigration Lawyers Here To Serve You

At Kanu & Associates, P.C., we understand the many challenges immigrants face under the current administration. That is why our legal professionals are committed to using our skills and knowledge of the law to help clients resolve their immigration matters. If you have questions about how the Final Rule might impact your immigration status, then give us a call to speak with one of our seasoned lawyers about your situation.

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What Changed Under The Trump Administrations Public Charge Rule

*UPDATE* Trump’s New Public Charge Rule

Things changed with the new Public Charge Rule. Under the new rule, the Trump Administration expanded the criteria for becoming a public charge. Instead of assessing whether an applicant had relied on U.S. government assistance in the past, the new rule went beyond to ask if a green card or visa applicant was âlikelyâ to rely on government benefits in the future. If they were found likely to receive benefits in the future, they could not get their visa or green card.

To assess the likelihood of future receipt of public benefits, the Department of Homeland Security authorized immigration officers to consider a wider variety of factors before approving a visa. Immigration officers began considering things like your age and medical conditions and how that influenced your ability to work. Applicants needed to be able to show that they had secured private health insurance in advance of coming to the United States. Immigration officers also considered family size – applicants from larger households were deemed more likely to become a public charge. Your ability to speak English and your past work and education also became a factor in assessing whether you could get a job as an immigrant. For the first time, DHS was checking credit scores, credit history, and financial liability to determine applicantsâ financial status.

For both adjustment of status and consular processes, green card applicants had to jump through more hoops that hadnât existed previously.

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What Is The History Of The Public Charge Rule

Historically, the Public Charge Rule has been enacted more as a guiding principle than as a rule. Since 1999, the Department of Homeland Security has made public charge determinations depending on whether a person:

  • received public cash assistance for income maintenance , or
  • received long-term healthcare at the U.S. governmentâs expense.
  • For either situation to be possible, you must have used one of these public benefits at the time of filing your green card:

    • Medicaid or another public program that covered your long-term health care
    • Temporary Assistance for Needy Families
    • Supplemental Security Income
    • State or local assistance

    Since only permanent residents and U.S. citizens are able to use these welfare services, it was rare for the U.S. government to deny green card applications due to inadmissibility on public charge grounds. For two decades, many green card applicants did not have to worry about failing the public charge test since they had never used any of these U.S. benefit programs. All they had to prove was that they had a financial sponsor whose financial status met the required Federal Poverty Guidelines for their application by filing an Affidavit of Support .

    But In 2018, the Trump administration proposed changes to the existing Public Charge Rule. On September 28, 2018, the United States Department of Homeland Security proposed a new Public Charge Rule, and on August 14, 2019, it . The new Public Charge Rule went into effect on February 24, 2020.

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    Its Time For The Biden Administration To Let Immigrants Know About The Public Charge Rule Change

    The COVID-19 pandemic exposed several major weaknesses in the U.S. health care and human services systems that exacerbated inequalities facing the immigrant community. Without access to the benefits provided by the Affordable Care Act, for example, immigrants had much lower rates of insurance coverage and were much less likely to have a primary care provider before the pandemic spread like wildfire across the country. In addition, punitive immigration law led to low utilization of the few public benefits some immigrants have access to. Chief among these punitive laws is the Trump administrations highly damaging public charge rule.

    What About Sponsors Of Green Card Applicants


    Separate from the actions described above, in May 2019, the White House issued a presidential memorandum directing a dozen Cabinet secretaries to step up punitive actions against U.S. citizens and permanent residents if their sponsored immigrant family members receive public benefits such as food stamps or Medicaid.

    For more than two decades, U.S. law has required that in order to sponsor a family member for a green card, a U.S. citizen or permanent resident must sign an affidavit of support, which is essentially a contract with the federal government promising to maintain the sponsored immigrants household income at no less than 125% of the federal poverty guidelines. If the immigrant ends up using certain public benefits before becoming a U.S. citizen, then the government has the right to recover the cash value of those benefits from the sponsor. Until now, however, there have been few such recovery actions by the government.

    By directing several federal agencies to vigorously pursue any possible recovery action, the White House order caused concern among family-based green card sponsors. Its important to remember, however, that relatively few green card holders are eligible for public benefits in the first place, and therefore most green card sponsors were unlikely to be harmed by this order.

    To stay up to date on changes throughout the U.S. immigration system, follow Boundless on or .

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    The Rule Denies Immigrants Green Cards For Using Food Assistance Or Medicaid

    | By Peniel Ibe, Feb 24, 2020

    In late January, the Supreme Court handed the Trump administration a win when they allowed it to begin implementing its cruel “public charge” immigration policy. The court lifted a temporary block put in place by a lower court, meaning the policy takes effect everywhere except Illinois on Feb. 24,2020.

    The policy essentially punishes immigrants and their families for using certain public benefits, like Medicaid or SNAP , and forces them to prove they are wealthy enough to not rely on government assistance in the future.

    The Supreme Court only lifted the injunctionmeaning there are still legal battles ahead, and the implementation of the rule may be permanently halted if the final ruling is unfavorable to the administration.

    Public programs and services that promote public health and community well-being should be accessible to everyone. Fairness and compassion should never be dependent on a persons race, ethnicity, or place of birth. But this change will alter how the government screens immigration applications and evaluates whether a person is likely to become a public charge.”

    Under the change, the Department of Homeland Security can deem a larger number of immigrants likely to become a public charge dependent on the government at any point in their lives and reject their petitions for green cards.

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