Public Charge Rule Temporarily Blocked!

Written by: Samantha Espinoza
Date Posted: October 25, 2019

Earlier this month, federal judges in three states, California, Vermont and New York, temporarily blocked the Public Charge Rule from taking effect. As you may recall from previous KidsFlash articles, the public charge rule change would make it increasingly difficult for documented immigrants to move along the path to citizenship. It would make it more difficult for them to access green cards if they take advantage of certain public programs that they are eligible for, such as health insurance, housing assistance or nutrition benefits. We know, if enacted, this rule would have devastating effects on thousands of Colorado families.

However, despite this initial victory, the public charge rule and anti-immigrant rhetoric from Washington continue to create fear and confusion among immigrant families, which is having real impacts on Colorado kids. A recent study from the Kaiser Family Foundation found that nearly half of community health centers report that immigrant patients have recently declined to enroll themselves in Medicaid coverage for which they are eligible. The Kaiser Family Foundation’s findings reinforce what many advocates feared: the continued attacks on immigrant rights is behind both a decline in enrollment in Medicaid and CHP+ and the stall in our state’s historic gains in covering all kids with health insurance. Many health centers also noted that immigrant patients are using fewer needed health services to care for chronic conditions. Health centers expressed concern for pregnant women, who they say are initiating prenatal care later in pregnancy and attending fewer prenatal care visits due to fears around public charge.

 What does the temporary injunction mean for immigrant families?

  • Using public benefits after October 15th: Under current policy guidance, the use of health, nutrition and housing programs cannot be considered in the public charge determination. The final rule is postponed until there is a final resolution in the cases and the federal district court in New York made it clear that the rule will not take effect retroactively.
  • Current policy for immigrants who have applications processed outside of the U.S.: All laws regarding public charge policy are as they were in January of 2018 when the Foreign Affairs manual was updated. New forms must be published, and the Foreign Affairs Manual must be updated before new practice can take effect. This has not been done and there is no clear indication as to when it will be done.
  • The Protecting Immigrant Families (PIF) Campaign, in conjunction with national partners, is providing in-depth trainings for immigration attorneys on public charge and an update on current litigation efforts.
Samantha Espinoza

About Samantha Espinoza

Sam joined the Colorado Children’s Campaign staff as a Policy Analyst after serving as their Government Affairs Intern while completing her MSW at the University of Denver. Her portfolio of policy issues includes child health, family planning and maternal and infant mental health. Sam is a military veteran whose greater part of professional experience is grounded in research, advocacy and supporting children who face adversity.