Rumored federal rule change would make families face a terrible choice

Written by: Stephanie Perez-Carrillo
Date Posted: August 31, 2018

Family and immigration advocates are preparing to respond to a potential change in federal rules that would significantly harm Colorado children in immigrant families. The rumored change would mean immigrants lawfully residing here may not be able to receive residency status if they’ve ever used a government program to which they are entitled. Similar to the family separation situation at the U.S. border and ending the Temporary Protected Status program, this move by the Trump administration would cause significant disruption, and even harm, to children in immigrant families in Colorado.

Immigrants who are requesting access to the United States or who are legally present in the country, but want to change their immigration status to Legal Permanent Resident—also known as a green card holder—are subject to a “public charge test.” This test is designed to take into account all of the life circumstances of immigrants in order to determine whether or not they are likely to become a “public charge” that relies on US government services. The U.S. government has used similar procedures to make this determination for decades by relying predominantly on whether the immigrant uses cash assistance or long-term care services to make the determination. However, the Trump administration is likely to propose drastic changes to this process that would force Colorado parents to choose between ensuring that their children have access to nutritious food and health insurance coverage or their ability to stay with their family. As drafted, the changes could lead to more than 120,000 Colorado families being forced to choose between being separated or meeting their basic needs.

What you need to know now if you are an immigrant or work with immigrants –the policy impacting immigrant families has NOT yet changed:

Earlier this year several news outlets reported a leaked draft of the proposed change to the public charge process. It is important to note that if the definition is changed, enrollment in public benefits can only be considered in public charge decisions from the date of the final release of the rule change forward.

What is “public charge”?

The public charge test has been part of federal immigration law for decades. It is designed to identify people who may become dependent on government benefits as their main source of support. If the government determines someone is likely to become a public charge, the government can deny admission to the U.S. or refuse an application for lawful permanent residency.

Under the current “public charge” definition only those who receive cash assistance through Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) are considered in this determination.

Proposed changes to the “public charge”

However, the proposal would broadly expand the types of benefits to be considered under the “public charge” determination—to include public health insurance and even tax credits for health insurance or child care. The proposal includes Medicaid, the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), subsidies provided through the Affordable Care Act, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), housing assistance such as Section 8 housing vouchers, and many other programs. The leaked rule also indicates the administration’s intent to consider the use of public benefits by the applicant’s family, including U.S. citizen children who are entitled to these benefits under law. If finalized, this proposal could force immigrant families to forego needed health care or go hungry in order to secure a permanent immigration status for themselves or their families and stay together in this country.

The impact for Coloradans

The Children’s Campaign has joined the Protecting Immigrant Families (PIF) coalition comprised of several of our statewide partners, including the Center for Health Progress, Colorado Center on Law and Policy and the Colorado Fiscal Institute. Together with national leading voices for health, nutrition, economic opportunity, and social justice, we are opposed to the proposed changes to “public charge” policy. We are proactively collaborating with news media, engaging policymakers, and rallying communities to fight this abusive policy. The Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) and National Immigration Law Center (NILC) represent national organizations that are monitoring the threat to current immigration law and are leading a robust effort to collaborate with partners across the nation.

Once the proposed rule has been published in the Federal Register, the public will have an opportunity to submit comments before it is finalized and we will be reaching out again to urge you and your networks to submit comments.

What you can do now

  • If you know someone who would be impacted by the public charge and is willing to share their story, please fill out this form or contact Stephanie Perez-Carrillo.
  • Speak out on social media using these hashtags:
    • #ProtectFamilies
    • #OurAmericanStory
    • #OurImmigrantStory
  • Visit the Protecting Immigrant Families site for additional resources and information

Una Carga Pública: La Nueva Amenaza a Las Familias Inmigrantes

La Casa Blanca está revisando una propuesta que cambiaría la política de “carga pública” que existe desde hace mucho tiempo—forzar a las familias de inmigrantes a tomar la imposible decisión entre cubrir sus necesidades básicas y mantener a su familia unida.

¿Qué es considerado “ser carga pública”?

Durante décadas, la prueba de “carga pública” ha sido parte de la ley federal de inmigración. Esta regla federal está diseñada a personas que pudieran llegar a depender de los beneficios del gobierno como su fuente principal de ingreso. Si el gobierno federal determina que alguien pueda convertirse en una “carga pública”, el gobierno federal puede negarle la entrada a los Estados Unidos o rechazar su solicitud de residencia legal permanente (una Tarjeta Verde).

En este momento la prueba de “carga pública” incluye familias que reciben beneficios públicos de TANF o Seguro Social Suplementario (SSI).

Cambios propuestos “ser carga pública”

La prueba ampliaría para incluir beneficios de otros programas en la determinación de ser carga pública: Medicaid, CHIP, EITC, subsidios en la ACA, SNAP, WIC y muchas más. La regla filtrada también indica la intención de la Administración de considerar el uso de los beneficios públicos por parte de la familia del solicitante, incluidos los niños ciudadanos de los Estados Unidos. Esta propuesta podría forzar a las familias inmigrantes a renunciar a la atención médica necesaria o pasar hambre para obtener un estatus migratorio para ellos o sus familias.

Voces para salud, alimento, y justicias sociales están unido en su oposición de estos propuestos. Organizaciones en varios estados están monitoreando la amenaza a la ley de inmigración y están liderando un esfuerzo sólido para colaborar con socios en todo el país.

Lo que necesitas saber si eres inmigrante o si trabajas con inmigrantes – la política de “carga pública” que afecta a inmigrantes y familias inmigrantes todavía NO ha cambiado.

Si la política se cambia, determinaciones de ser carga pública solo pueden considerar la inscripción en beneficios públicos a partir de la fecha en que la regla cambie.

Toma Acción

  • Si conoces a alguien que sería afectado por el cargo público y está dispuesto a compartir su historia, llene este formulario o comuníquese con Stephanie Perez-Carrillo.
  • Usen las redes sociales con estos hashtags:
    • #ProtectFamilies
    • #OurAmericanStory
    • #OurImmigrantStory
  • Visite la página de Protecting Immigrant Families
Stephanie Perez-Carrillo

About Stephanie Perez-Carrillo

Stephanie works as a Policy Analyst for the Colorado Children’s Campaign. Prior to joining the Children’s Campaign, she worked as a Public Policy Fellow at The Women’s Foundation of Colorado – where she found her love and passion for policy work. Before diving into the policy world, Stephanie served as a Teach for America Corps Member in South Carolina, teaching high school and middle school math. Early on while obtaining her degree in Marketing from Florida International University, she worked in health care as a Patient Advocate and Unit Secretary. When she is not working, you can typically find her at a coffee shop, hanging out with friends, or engaging in some type of outdoor activity.