First, the Trump Administration went after undocumented communities by implementing the practice of forced family separation. Now, the Administration is going after legal immigrants. Earlier this year, there was a trickle of speculation about the Trump Administration penalizing legal residents from using government benefits. The DHS Secretary confirmed this week that the Trump Administration is expanding the concept of a public charge by adding more inadmissibility determinations.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services defines a “public charge” as an individual who is likely to become ‘primarily dependent on the government for subsistence, as demonstrated by either the receipt of public cash assistance for income maintenance or institutionalization for long-term care at government expense. Multiple factors, including financial resources, health, education, skills, family status, and age, are taken into account to determine whether an individual is considered a public charge.
Earlier this week, the Trump Administration revealed its proposal to expand the definition of a public charge. The proposal applies to anyone seeking to come to the US on various visas, as well as those who already live in the U.S. who are trying to become permanent legal residents or renewing their status. Consequently, many scenarios could happen. Immigrants who pay taxes and are considered legal residents may not be able to obtain a visa for their family member, ineligible to receive a green card for themselves, or face entry barriers if they try to enter the U.S.
The other consequences are equally as grave. Immigrants are already wary about enrolling for health care benefits for fear of deportation or denial of a visa extension or green card. Therefore, this rule could result in residents who qualify for benefits to withdraw from welfare programs. Over time, we could expect to see an increased prevalence of obesity and malnutrition, a delay in seeking medical care until the last resort (the emergency room), lower vaccination rates leading to more diseases, and higher levels of poverty and uncertain housing.
Again, this rule is still a proposal. However, you can take action by submitting your comment after the Federal Register publishes the draft regulation. We will notify you when the comment period opens so that you can express your opposition to this proposal.