Public Charge

WHAT IS PUBLIC CHARGE?

What if you had to choose between accessing healthcare services or keeping your family together in the US? What if you had to choose between choosing to buy groceries, having a roof over your  head or staying in the US?

This is a new reality that millions of families will face.

On August 12, the federal Administration finalized a regulatory change to the definition of public charge that would force lawfully-present immigrants to choose between basic services—like health care, food stamps and housing—or keeping their family together in the US. What this means is that the federal government will decide who can become a green card holder based on public benefits utilized along with other factors, like health, family size, education, and English proficiency.

Please note that the rule goes into effect on October 15th. Families are not yet impacted, and until then, we are helping to educate our community members about public charge.

According to the posted final rule, “Public charge means an (alien) person who receives one or more public benefit… for more than 12 months in an aggregate within any 36-month period (such that, for instance, receipt of two benefits in one month count as two months).” While the final rule excluded children using Medicaid under the age of 21 and pregnant women, research shows children in immigrant families will continue experiencing the chilling effect of the rule.

This rule is not about making immigrants self-sufficient. Instead, the regulation puts money above values and the wealthy ahead of families who have waited for years to be reunited. In doing so, the finalized rule seeks to prevent many immigrants from becoming legal permanent residents. It is part of a series of attacks on all immigrant communities and their children. The message and purpose is clear: rig the system to disempower communities of color and tell us we aren’t welcome here.

But the fight is not over. The best way to build a strong country is to ensure that the families who live here have the food, medical care, shelter and other basics they need to thrive. We need elected officials, advocates and people all over the country to stand up, speak out, and fight back to protect immigrant families and our country’s future!

WHAT WE ARE DOING

California policymakers, community leaders, and partners across the state are working to push back on the multiple federal attacks and create a welcoming and safe environment for all Californians.

The Children’s Partnership is an active member of the Protecting Immigrant Families Campaign, made up of over 300 organizations working to defend and protect immigrant families from the confusion of the implementation of the public charge rule. The campaign is led by the California Immigrant Policy Center (CIPC) at the state level and by the National Immigration Law Center (NILC) and the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) at the national level. We join First Focus as a leader in supporting other child advocates to engage in efforts to protect children from the effects of the regulation, and we join the entire coalition and families nationwide in denouncing this and future attacks on immigrant families.

In October 2018, we joined thousands of partners across the country in pushing back against the proposed changes to the public charge rule and submitted our public comment to the Federal Register before the December 10, 2018 deadline.

Advocates successfully gathered over 250,000 comments to fight the proposed public charge regulation, and TCP provided template comment support to oral health advocates, education partners, and families to ensure all voices were heard. Together, we effectively stalled the rule for nearly a year, and minimized the effects for children under 21 and pregnant women, who are excluded from the finalized version of the regulation.

Learn more about California and national efforts to support immigrant families.

On Wednesday August 21st, TCP will host a #PublicChargeChat on Twitter alongside partners at the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP), California Immigrant Policy Center (CIPC), and SIREN Services, Immigrant Rights and Education Network. Join us at 11 am PT (2 pm ET) to discuss the new rule, what it means for immigrant families, and what we can do to fight back to #ProtectFamilies.

BACKGROUND ON PUBLIC CHARGE

What is the public charge test?

The public charge test is used by immigration officials to determine people who primarily rely on government cash assistance to support their cost of day-to-day living. Before August 12, 2019, this included programs such as Temporary Assistance for Need Families (TANF) or assistance for long-term nursing home care.

How has it changed?

The government is changing how it makes public charge decisions. Immigration officials will look more closely at factors like health, age, income, skills (including English language skills), and use of more public programs, including:

  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, “EBT” or “Food Stamps”) (CalFresh in California)
  • Federal Public Housing and Section 8 assistance
  • Medicaid (except for emergency services, children under 21 years, pregnant women, and new mothers)
  • Cash assistance programs (like SSI, TANF, General Assistance)

Please note: Services that are not listed above will NOT be counted in the new public charge test. This includes WIC, CHIP, school lunches, food banks, shelters, and many more – these programs are safe to get if you are eligible.

TAKE ACTION and #RiseUpAsOne

President Trump’s anti-immigrant attacks put families in danger. This revised public charge rule has been an extraordinary effort to circumvent Congress. The long-standing rule was narrow for a purpose, and while the final rule excludes children under the age of 21 and pregnant women on Medicaid, the fear and confusion over the rule will exacerbate the chilling effect of disenrollment from critical services, and the negative impact to children’s wellbeing will continue.

Immigrant families, advocates, and everyone can take action to fight back. Opportunities include sharing your story, staying informed through the Protecting Immigrant Families campaign or following @KidsPartnership for updates. Whoever you are, wherever you are, click here to learn ways to make a difference.

Adoption of the rule by the federal government will create further confusion, deepen fear in the community, and significantly impact access to health and social services for California’s children, where one in two children are part of an immigrant family. Research shows that when parents are covered, children are more likely to use their eligible coverage in what’s deemed the “welcome mat effect.”

To continue supporting families in these challenging times, TCP, in partnership with The California Endowment, and with input from partners like the National Immigration Law Center and the California Immigrant Policy Center,  have created a video to inform you about “public charge,” its impact on children and families, and ways you can get involved to limit the negative impact the rule will have on communities.

#RiseUpAsOne Download and share our video.

Potential Impact of Public Charge Changes on California Children

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In late 2018, TCP in partnership with Lake Research Partners, hosted a series of six focus groups among Latino, Black, and Asian Pacific Islander (API) immigrant parents across California. The focus groups with California families shared new information on how this shameful regulation would impact on immigrant families, their children, and their communities. This research effort served as an opportunity to better understand current knowledge and learn about their key questions, concerns, and perceptions on the proposed rule.

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As children’s advocates, we hope you will continue to use these graphics and valuable family voices to highlight the particular impact on California children’s access to critical services in response to the rule. Please join us in fighting back against this harmful regulation and help move our country forward toward a better, brighter, and healthier future.

Resources for Families and Communities

Along with community and education partners, TCP is sponsoring a series of community forums to connect with families and respond to questions or concerns about the public charge rule and its impact on their child’s health and wellbeing.

We have teamed up with immigration partners and legal partners to address questions on how the public charge rule and other immigration policy impacts families’ eligibility, enrollment, and the ability to get care, as well as partners that can provide direct enrollment support. The events provide community members an opportunity to stay up-to-date while being connected to resources in their community.

Would you like a presentation or resources for your organization or community members? Visit our Let’s Talk page or reach out to a member of our Community Engagement team!

If you are interested in a training for your staff, your provider network, or other community organizations that serve immigrant families, please visit our partners at California Primary Care Association.

If you have any questions about upcoming events and trainings, please contact us at  allinforhealth@childrenspartnership.org.

Follow Us:

Tweet: The Trump Admin has changed the fed immigration laws about “public charge”. The health of millions of CA children is at risk w/ changes that would punish immigrant families for taking care of parents’ basic needs. Learn more: bit.ly/2EA9Rbm

Tweet: Your #health, wellbeing and that of your family is important. Until October 15, you should continue to access programs you need to take care of your family and talk to an immigration lawyer about if the public charge test impacts you. #ProtectFamilies

Tweet: Let’s not punish Immigrant families for taking care of themselves and their children. Visit protectingimmigrantfamilies.org and make your voice heard to fight back against the public charge rule. Let’s #RiseUpAsOne for our family, for your family, for all families. #ProtectFamilies