In Brown Type: New immigration rule is shortsighted

By Jaya Padmanahban


The new rule affects those who are in the country legally and are applying to become permanent residents; those trying to enter the country on a legal visa; and those seeking to change or extend their legal status as a student, tourist or temporary worker. Green card holders who are applying to be citizens are not affected by the public charge rule unless they leave the country for longer than 180 days. Neither does it affect refugees and asylum seekers.

The rule sets parameters for admissibility to the country, deeming a person a “public charge” when they use benefits including Medicaid, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Section 8 housing assistance, Temporary Assistance to Needy Families and Supplemental Security Income for over a total of 12 months in a 36-month period.

To be clear, a public charge assessment will be made after considering a “totality of circumstances” beyond using public benefits, which include age, health, family status, financial status, education and skills and affidavit of support.

As Madison Allen, senior policy attorney at the Center for Law and Social Policy, explained, the rule negatively weighs on immigrants who are younger than 18 and older than 61 years.

Health conditions that prevent working or attending school can become criteria for inadmissibility. However, if the individual has private unsubsidized health insurance, it will count in the individual’s favor.


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