Public charge rule goes into effect, invites discriminatory restrictions on dreams of permanent residency

February 24, 2020

The AIDS Foundation of Chicago (AFC) is disheartened by today’s news regarding the Trump Administration’s dangerous public charge rule. The U.S. Supreme Court’s dissolution of the Illinois statewide injunction, which prevented the new public charge rule from going into effect, now invites discriminatory restrictions on immigrants’ pathway to a green card. 

As the public charge rule takes effect in Illinois and throughout the country today, Feb. 24, 2020, many non-citizens will begin weighing their use of lifesaving public benefits — such as Medicaid, SNAP, and certain federal housing programs — against their dreams of permanent residency.  

The Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) public charge rule effectively places wealth-based sanctions on immigrants pursuing permanent residency, penalizing a large swath of individuals including immigrants living with HIV and AIDS and other chronic health conditions.  

This Final Rule will only apply to applications and petitions submitted on or after Feb. 24, 2020, and though many categories of immigrants are exempt from public charge, this latest news is expected to have a continued chilling effect. 

In Illinois alone, three out of five people living with HIV rely on Medicaid for their health care and may utilize other forms of public assistance included in this rule. Not only does this rule significantly diminish the ability of people living with HIV and AIDS and other chronic health conditions to immigrate to the U.S. or obtain legal permanent residency, it relies on fearmongering to disincentivize immigrants and their families from seeking health care. This is a trend that has already seen alarming decreases in doctor’s visits and participation in essential public programs.

“This ruling will cause major harm to immigrants and their families. Even before its official rollout, this rule has already made immigrants afraid to seek programs that support their basic needs,” shared Simone Koehlinger, AFC’s chief programs officer. “We will continue to work closely with our partners across Chicagoland to ensure immigrants know if or how this new rule may affect them.”  

AFC vehemently opposes this decision and will continue to fight for all immigrant and migrant families in the U.S., including those affected by and living with HIV and AIDS.  

Immigrant families and community members who want more information about the public charge rule can visit Protecting Immigrant Families Illinois and Immigrant Family Resource Program, a statewide network with staff who are trained on public charge, may provide free legal assistance, and collectively speak over 55 languages. 

Staff members of organizations working with immigrants can also ask public charge questions on HelpHub, a free online technical assistance portal. 

Categorized under Illinois, National and Public Statements.

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