Families Urged to Fight Fear with Facts, as Public Charge Regulations Implemented

FEBRUARY 24, 2020, WASHINGTON, DC — Today the Trump Administration will begin to subject immigrants seeking green cards or visas to its radical public charge regulations. These regulations, from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Department of State (DOS), are essentially wealth tests that will make it more difficult for immigrants with low incomes to enter the United States or become lawful permanent residents. They are part of a drumbeat of Trump administration assaults on immigrants and their families, on people with low incomes and the core federal programs that help them, and on people and communities of color.

The regulations, which have been looming since drafts were leaked in February 2017, have already sowed confusion and fear within the immigrant community, causing many people to abandon programs they need for fear of consequences to their future immigration status. The DHS regulation’s proposal in 2018 prompted massive popular resistance, generating a record-breaking 266,077 public comments, overwhelmingly opposed. Litigation will continue to challenge the regulations as backdoor attempts to go around Congress to rewrite our nation’s immigration policy.

“This is a day that we hoped would never come – but it’s essential that we understand what these regulations do and the threat they pose to our communities,” said Olivia Golden, executive director of the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP). “The Trump administration is counting on fear to amplify the harm, but facts are the best defense for immigrant families. We encourage parents to keep their U.S.-born children enrolled in the programs that help them thrive.”

An applicant’s use of public programs covered by the new policies prior to today will not be considered and benefits received by U.S.-born children will not be held against their parents. Few people who are subject to the public charge test qualify for public programs covered by the regulations. Yet the fear generated by the regulations have already harmed the health, nutrition, and housing of immigrant families — overwhelmingly families of color — all over the country.

In addition, the regulations create many new excuses for immigration officers to reject applicants including age, credit score, and disability — and even the fact that an individual is applying for a green card. These changes are likely to harm communities and destabilize families, including threatening the wellbeing and economic security of U.S. citizen children.

Advocates in the Protecting Immigrant Families Campaign opposing the policy have prepared simple, accessible materials offering accurate information for families.

Golden added, “We are deeply grateful to our partners in communities across the country who are working to make sure immigrants and their families have accurate, up-to-date information. Together, we will continue to work toward our shared vision of a nation where all are truly equal, immigration is recognized as a strength, and no one in America is denied the essentials of life because of where they were born.”