Proposed public charge changes

By Leslie Ignacio 

Public charge is a term that has been used for more than 100 years in immigration law to identify a person who is deemed likely to become primarily dependent on the government for their subsistence based on a test looking at factors such as age, health, income and education.

On September 22, 2018 the Department of Homeland Security released its text on its desire to propose changes to the public charge policy which would essentially be used to consider immigration applications based on the expanded list of programs utilized by the applicant.

According to the Migration Policy Institute, 2.3 million of the 4 million legally present non-citizens who arrived during the past five years could be at risk of a public charge determination, up from the current three percent.

During a telebriefing, experts came together to discuss the proposed additions and what they would mean for the immigrant community. Although the fear of not being able to receive the approval for their documentation has begun, they wanted the public to know that the rule is not yet published therefore it cannot affect anyone right now.

“It would make an already complicated and confusing immigration system even more complex and less accessible to many”, said Wendy Cervantes, senior policy analyst of CLASP.

These experts and many others across the country are fighting to be able to achieve that the new rule not even publish.

Although the process of approving the new rule takes some time, which would be beneficial to the community, The Department of Homeland Security has 60 days from the day the proposal is released to receive and acknowledge comments from the public. And they are to take all of them into consideration. And sometimes through this process it is possible that they can have changes as the rule is not final and has the possibility of not being published.

Experts fear that these new proposed rules will allow people to have less and less access to basic survival necessities; fearing it will increase poverty and have worse health outcomes.

“Our communities and our providers will see more untreated illnesses, unvaccinated children and possibly disease outbreaks. We do not want to go back to the days where patients arrived in crisis at the emergency department without health insurance coverage, leaving the hospital and tax payers on the hook”, said Maria Gonzalez, strategy and communications director of Health Care for All.

The immigrant community is large in size and very diverse, which is why even if they proposed new rule was to publish, it would not apply for all undocumented people. These new proposal policies, would mainly only affect those who decide to come into the U.S. or if they’re applying for their green card.

“The best thing to do is to think about this on a case to case basis, if families are worried about the use of services of their family members. Or how it might affect their immigration status the best thing to do is get an immigration checkup or a full consultation with a trusted legal service provider”, said Erin Quinn, senior staff attorney of Immigrant Legal Resource Center.

Experts want people to continue enrolling and receiving the benefits from these programs without having to worry and to always speak to an attorney if any questions do arise or if the new rules are affecting you in any way.

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