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WASHINGTON February 24, 2020 – The U.S. Department of Homeland Security today began implementing the Trump administration’s new “public charge” regulation, a cornerstone of the administration’s attempts to redefine the U.S. immigration system to disenfranchise communities of color and favor the wealthy. The new policy dramatically alters the criteria used in adjudicating applications for lawful permanent residence to make it much more difficult for low- and moderate income families to overcome the new test.
The new public charge test reviews numerous factors in determining whether an applicant is likely to use an expanded list of public benefits at any time in the future. Few people who are subject to the public charge test qualify for the programs covered by the regulation, but the regulation’s criteria — including new thresholds for income, age, credit score, health conditions, and English language proficiency to be weighed in the test — will dramatically reduce the diversity of immigrants to the U.S. As illustrated in a new NILC report released today, fear and confusion over the regulation have already harmed the health and well-being of immigrant families — overwhelmingly families of color — all over the country.
Marielena Hincapié, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center, issued the following statement:
“Today, as the implementation of the Trump administration’s pernicious public charge policy weighs heavily on the minds of many immigrants and their families, all of us who value the diversity of our nation and share a vision for a more just and equitable country must strengthen our resolve to keep fighting to uphold our values.
“Over the past three years, the Trump administration has used threats, false starts, exaggeration, and misinformation around public charge to deliberately spread fear and confusion among immigrant communities navigating an already dysfunctional system. These tactics are designed to maximize this cruel new policy’s harmful impact. As a result, we’ve heard far too many reports of families avoiding crucial economic support programs vital to their children and loved ones’ wellbeing, even before the policy went into effect.
“Faced with these kinds of attacks, we must arm ourselves and our communities with reliable information. Fear is Trump’s weapon of choice, and facts are families’ best defense.
“All of us can also use our voice to fight back against this regulation. Let your elected officials at the local, state, and federal level know that you oppose these hateful efforts to radically restrict our legal immigration system to only the wealthy and stigmatize use of government assistance programs and the immigrant communities who may need an extra hand in order to get on their feet. This regulation may be in the rulebooks today, but future administrations can and should remove it immediately.
“This fight is about the country we want. We must reject Trump’s attempts to redefine who we are and who belongs here. We must keep striving for a country that welcomes newcomers and where each of us – no matter the size of our pocketbook, what we look like, or where we were born – has the ability to fulfill our potential grounded in the same spirit of opportunity that has fostered generations of success stories throughout American history.
“We urge voters who share this vision of a diverse country where everyone has the freedom to thrive to make your voices heard this November in this most consequential election.”
Individuals and service providers seeking more information about the new “public charge” regulation should visit protectingimmigrantfamilies.org