Asian Americans Advancing Justice Condemns Public Charge Rule Changes

A new public charge rule from the Trump Administration disproportionately blocks immigrants of color from obtaining green cards
For Immediate Release
Michelle Boykins (202) 296-2300, ext. 0144
Alison Vu (213) 241-0283
Brandon Lee 773-271-0899 x 200
James Woo 404-585-8446
Milan Chang 415-848-7728

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Yesterday, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security released a final rule making sweeping changes to the "public charge" test that will disproportionately block immigrants of color from obtaining lawful permanent residency, also known as green cards, inhibit immigrant workers and foreign students from extending or changing their visas, and undermine the ability of green card holders to re-enter the U.S. if they have spent more than 6 months abroad. The new rule dramatically expands the public charge ground of exclusion from a limited inquiry into whether an immigrant relies on the government for cash assistance or institutional care to an extraordinarily broad test that will exclude anyone who may use, at any time in the future, one of the supplemental benefits that millions of working Americans rely upon, such as non-emergency Medicaid, food stamps, and subsidized housing.

The new rule will impose an unprecedented test to assess future benefits use that will penalize legal immigrants, especially immigrant seniors and all immigrants who are low-income, lack English language proficiency, have chronic medical conditions, and lack access to private health insurance, educational opportunities, and credit. According to a report by Migration Policy Institute, more than 941,000 recent green card holders, including approximately 300,000 from Asian countries, would likely have been excluded if the rule had already been in effect when they applied.

Despite the widespread outcry that led to over 260,000 public comments in the months following the proposed rule, the changes to the public charge criteria have been enacted and will go into effect in 60 days after formal publication (scheduled for Wednesday, August 14, 2019), which will be October 15, 2019 unless it can be delayed. 

Asian Americans Advancing Justice, an affiliation of five civil rights organizations, issues the following statement:

“We strongly condemn the Trump administration’s changes to the public charge rule. This racist policy seeks to dramatically undermine the family-based immigration system that has been the backbone of our country and instead prioritizes wealthy immigrants. The public charge rule change continues the administration’s inhumane assault on immigrant families by increasing denials of green card applicants.

Public benefits are essential to helping families stay healthy and thrive. Weighing the likelihood of future benefit use, along with discriminatory factors such as English language proficiency, is unjust. The administration has intentionally sought to scare immigrants and their families from using public benefits. Since the rule change was proposed at the end of 2018, over 13% of immigrant adults are reported to have dropped their use of public benefits out of fear of risking their future green card status. With the rules now final, the effect will be even more devastating for our communities. 

As a nation, we should prioritize accessible pathways to lawful permanent residency and eventually citizenship, reuniting families, and helping them succeed. Immigrant families deserve the right to reunite with their loved ones and use programs to ensure they are healthy, safe, and thriving. We call on the administration to cease its attack on immigrants and communities of color.”