Public charge rule finalized, harming immigrant families in the U.S.

August 13, 2019

The AIDS Foundation of Chicago (AFC) is profoundly disappointed that the Department of Homeland Security has decided to finalize a “public charge” rule that will place severe restrictions on who may enter or stay in the country, based on arbitrary evaluations of their supposed potential to use public assistance programs like Medicaid.

“The continued barrage of intimidation tactics to undermine immigrant families is antithetical to what our country stands for,” said Simone Koehlinger, AFC’s Chief Programs Officer and a committee member of the coalition Protecting Immigrant Families - Illinois. “It is unfathomable that the administration intends to disincentivize people from seeking medical and social support and unfairly deny people living with HIV the opportunity to adjust their immigration status.”

Today’s announcement comes after months of critical feedback against the rule. In 2018, individuals and organizations submitted more than 266,000 comments in response, many of which described the negative impact it could have on immigrants pursuing necessary services for their health and well-being. According to the final rule, immigrants could be denied access to a green card for participating in “cash benefits for income maintenance, SNAP [food assistance], most forms of Medicaid, Section 8 Housing Assistance under the Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) Program, Section 8 Project-Based Rental Assistance, and certain other forms of subsidized housing.”

The rule will be published on Aug. 14 and will become effective on Oct. 15. This final rule has already placed a significant toll on the lives of immigrant families: the Kaiser Family Foundation reports that immigrants in the U.S. have been afraid to participate in public programs even in times of serious hardship because of the threat of this rule. Among other findings, they reported a 42% increase in skipped medical appointments among immigrants and migrants since the public charge rule was unveiled for review.

AFC will continue to fight for all immigrant and migrant families in the U.S., including those affected and living with HIV and AIDS. Read our reaction to the rule from December 2018.

Updates as of 10/11/2019

[1]  Advocates are using every tool at their disposal to stop this rule from taking effect, including numerous lawsuits filed across the country. Cook County and the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR) filed suit in federal court to block implementation of the public charge rule. 

[2] Many immigrant status are NOT subject to this rule. Many public benefits are NOT included in the public charge test in the new rule. Family members' use of benefits is not counted in the rule's public charge test. Please see attached fact sheets for more detailed information (in English, Spanis, Simple Chinese, Arabic, Polish, Korean and Urdu).

[3] The rule is scheduled to go into effect October 15, 2019. Green card applications filed on or after that date will be subject to the new test.  Use of the new list of benefits prior to October 15, 2019 (e.g., Non-emergency Medicaid (with exceptions below), Supplemental Nutrition and Assistance Program (SNAP or food stamps), Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program, Section 8 Project-Based Rental Assistance, and Public Housing) should not be considered in the new public charge test. Note that there are three important exceptions to the receipt of Medicaid: (1) by those who are under 21 (All Kids program); (2) by those who are pregnant (Moms & Babies); or (3) for emergency medical services. 

[4] PIF-IL can provide free trainings, webinars for your organization. Email us! Community based organizations can assist immigrants with their public charge questions. See this link.   HelpHub experts can answer your public charge and immigrant eligibility questions. Sign up to be a HelpHub user here.

Categorized under Advocacy and National.

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