Public Charge Undermines Communities

Even as the situation rapidly deteriorates at the U.S.-Mexico border, the Administration has proposed a new rule that would drastically reshape who we welcome as newcomers to our society. The rule, whose ongoing comment period ends on Dec. 10, would place a higher value on those who are affluent and challenge hard-working families in their efforts to remain together. In doing so, the Administration will also put the health and well-being of families, including millions of children, at risk. As people of faith we are called to stand with our brothers and sisters and oppose this proposal, which would harm families, alter the face of our nation, and deny hospitality to our neighbors.

On Oct. 10, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued a proposed rule, commonly referred to as “public charge,” that would make it much more difficult for immigrants to apply for legal immigration status in the United States. The proposed rule changes longstanding policy and dramatically expands the definition of what it means to be “a public charge,” or someone who accesses public services. Through the expansion of the definition of public charge, the proposed rule raises significant new barriers to maintaining and obtaining legal immigration status (i.e. obtaining a green card).

The public has the right to comment on proposed Administrative rule changes.Comments are due by December 10, 2018. They need to be individually written comments that are distinct from other comments in order to be counted.You can submit online comments at Protecting Immigrant Families comment portal at

Please note that this is a different kind of action alert that we usually send. A boiler plate comment will not have the desired effect, as DHS will weed out duplicate comments. Therefore, please take some time with these issues to write a personal comment about how this rule will affect your community, your church, or your family. The comments do not need to be long; they only need to be heartfelt.

Under current regulations, the government restricts immigration applications on public charge grounds if an immigrant is deemed likely to depend on public cash assistance or need long-term medical care in an institution at the government’s expense. Under the proposed rule, the definition is so broad that it would deny immigrants legal status if they have used one of an expanded list of public benefits to survive, such as Medicaid, food assistance, or housing vouchers. Also, many more elements would be considered as positive and negative factors in determining public charge, including the immigrant’s: age, health, family status, financial status, education, skills, and employment history.

If the proposed rule is not defeated, hard-working families who are already struggling will be even more vulnerable to homelessness, illness, and malnutrition. Immigrant families will be put in the terrible position of being forced to choose between being together and accessing public benefits assistance. With one in four American children having at least one immigrant parent, this issue touches millions. Stripping families of their basic needs is not consistent with our shared values. As people of faith, we do not believe anyone should have to pick between hunger and disease and risk the deportation of a family member.

You can learn more about the proposed changes at the National Immigration Law Center (NILC). Additional information is also provided by CLINIC.

Para leer esta publicación en español, haga clic aquí.

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