Public Charge Rule Finalized

Posted August, 12 2019 by Amanda Dunker

The Trump Administration’s public charge rule was finalized today despite nearly 270,000 comments describing the harm it could cause to health and public welfare. The rule is yet another Trump action that de-values and de-humanizes immigrants (read the final rule here, and read our comments against it here).

Immigrant New Yorkers should know that they have support. The rule is very complicated and only applies to some immigrants and some circumstances. No one should disenroll from a program that is helping them, like Medicaid or SNAP, without talking to an expert first. For example, Medicaid enrollment does not count under the final rule for people under the age of 21. If you have questions about your specific status or a specific program, call the Office for New American’s Hotline (1-800-566-7636). The rule will not go into effect until October 15, 2019 – it will not apply for green card applications sent in before that.

This rule is a drastic change in American immigration policy that will result in rampant discrimination. Being a child under 18 years of age, or an adult over 61, could weigh heavily on a public charge determination. Having a disability or any documented health problem could likewise be a negative consideration. And using programs like SNAP, Medicaid, or public housing for longer than the Trump Administration’s arbitrary threshold means being potentially considered a public charge and thus not able to access a green card. Some experts estimate that one in three native-born Americans would not pass this test.

People fought back when the rule was proposed and they’ll keep fighting back now. There are sure to be many legal challenges to the rule – including court cases about whether the Administration really addressed all the concerns raised in those hundreds of thousands of comments. Congress can also pass new laws that stop the rule from being implemented – the executive branch can only take these types of action within parameters set by Congress. In the meantime, HCFANY will keep tracking the impact of health coverage and access to care. To keep track of other developments related to public charge, follow Protecting Immigrant Families (link).

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