On January 27th, the US Supreme Court authorized the implementation of the Trump administration’s “public charge” rule change, this modification in federal immigration policy is projected to impact near 24 million Americans and millions more seeking to come to the United States.
The new rule, basically, creates a wealth test for immigrants; it is based on factors like their age, health, education, income, and resources. U.S. immigration officials can use the results of this test to deny applicants seeking admission into the United States or those who are applying for lawful permanent residency (green card) because the person is likely to become a “public charge” in need of government benefits. Under this new policy, immigrants would be accused if they are in the United States legally and use public benefits — such as Medicaid, food stamps or housing assistance — too often or are deemed likely to someday rely on them.
Economists predict, and advocates claim to already have observed, that the rule change will have a “chilling effect” on immigrant families — including those with US-citizen children — dissuading them from accessing housing, food and nutrition programs, as well as health care, including the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), to which they are legally entitled. This “chilling effect” happens because, even if the new rule does not apply to them, immigrant families may worry that accessing these benefits will somehow jeopardize their legal status.
In a November 2019 report, the Fiscal Policy Institute, an independent, nonpartisan research organization, predicted the public charge rule change would shrink the nation’s economy by $24 billion annually, with a related loss of 164,000 jobs lost across the country and lost tax revenue in every state. When America closes its doors to those seeking economic opportunity and the American Dream, as well as those wishing to reunite with family already here, we close the doors to the future generations of our economy.
This fight is not over. Public servants, advocates, and regular people all over the country will continue to stand up, speak out, and fight back to protect immigrant families and our country’s future.