OPW Statement on New “Public Charge” Regulation


August 13 – Washington, DC

Yesterday, the Trump administration announced that it is implementing a new “public charge” regulation as it continues to attempt to greatly reduce immigration levels into the United States.   This new criteria, Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds, will take effect on October 15th and will greatly expand the definition of Public Charge.  Those attempting to legally migrate to the United States will now face more stringent requirements in terms of wealth, education, age and English-language skills.

The new rule will also make it harder for immigrant persons with legal status in the United States to obtain a green card if they use benefits such as Medicaid, food stamps or other public benefits.   U.S. immigration law already screens out those that might become a burden on society, but this new rule greatly expands the definition of public charge and who might become one. While use of cash assistance has traditionally been a criteria that might disqualify someone from legal immigrant status, it has now been expanded to include Medicaid, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) or food stamps, and housing assistance like Section 8 housing vouchers

The Office of Public Witness is extremely concerned with this new attempt to punish those whom we are called on as Christians to aid. The rule sets up a cruel choice for low wage workers who are immigrant persons. They will now be at risk of losing their status if they apply for public benefits and be at more risk for homelessness, hunger, and malnutrition. Additionally, the new rule will hurt those immigrant persons coming from Africa and Latin America where people historically have lower incomes, as well as those in the United States on Temporary Protected Status from regions where there have been conflicts and natural disasters. Deportations are likely to increase as those already here with legal temporary status are denied permanent status in the United States because of the use of public benefits.

Rev. Jimmie Hawkins, Director of the Office of Public Witness, condemned the new rule stating:

“The Trump administration’s new rule concerning immigrant persons attempting to legally migrate to the United States is one of the most un-Christian actions of any administration in decades. This new rule would radically alter the criteria for acquiring legal status and citizenship and harm the ability of the most vulnerable to find a place in our society; it is one of the most cold-hearted endeavors imaginable. It is beyond the pale that immigrant persons with legal status in the US could now be denied permanent status because they have legally used public benefits. It is the poor, the impoverished, the hungry and the starving for whom we as a nation, and as people of faith, are called to embrace and welcome. It is with the strongest condemnation that we stand in firm and determined opposition to any actions put forth by this administration to implement such a rule. As a Matthew 25 church “We Choose Welcome” to those who are most in need.”


Please continue to stand in solidarity with and pray and take action for our immigrant brothers and sisters in this dire time.


The alien who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.

Leviticus 19:34


You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.
Luke 10:2

Click here for more information on the “Public Charge Rule”

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