Public Charge: Backgrounder | CLINIC

Public Charge: Backgrounder

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Don’t let a change to immigration application standards hurt millions of families


About the proposed rule

The administration has published a proposed rule that would make it much more difficult for immigrants to apply for legal immigration status in the United States. The proposed rule would drastically expand the definition of what it means to be a public charge, which could prevent an immigrant from maintaining or obtaining legal immigration status.

Currently, the government denies immigrants’ applications on public charge grounds if it finds they would likely depend on public cash assistance or need long term medical care at the government’s expense. Under the proposed new rule, the list of public benefits that could prevent immigrants from acquiring legal immigration status would be expanded. Also, the rule would increase the possibility that applications would be denied based on the various factors to determine public charge, such as age, health, family status, financial status, education, skills and employment history.

Why it matters

This proposed rule will hurt and potentially separate families. As people of faith, we are called to stand with families, for the common good of all and to defend those made vulnerable by unfair policies. This planned expansion of public charge forces parents to choose between needed public assistance to keep their children housed, fed and healthy or leaving their family vulnerable to separation.

What you can do

The proposed rule has been published and is open for public comment for a 60-day period until Dec. 10, 2018. You can write to express your opposition to the rule. In the coming weeks, CLINIC will provide instructions on how to draft and submit a comment. The number and contents of the comments submitted during this period will affect whether the proposed rule will be finalized as-is, or if it will be revised to reduce the negative impact on immigrant families. This is our best chance to make a difference. Learn more at