The US made the public charge a part of its immigration policy back in the 1880s. It was to keep people who will become dependents of the US welfare systems from taking advantage of their immigrant status. However, the proposed Public Charge Rule Change will extend what it can control. Family-based immigration to the US will take a direct hit, especially for people from Latin America and Africa. Most candidates from the two regions won’t be able to satisfy the wealth criterion of the public charge. Additionally, those who have provisional immigration status could be denied US residency as a result of this change.

The Proposed Public Charge Rule will be in effect on 15 October 2019.

The Public Charge Rule Then vs. Now

The problem is that what the term, public charge, actually means was never elaborated on. Until now when it refers to immigrants who will need the following for continued survival in the US:

  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
  • State and local cash or General Assistance
  • Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)/welfare
  • Long-time usage of Medicaid and similar programs, such as for survival in a nursing home or mental health institution

The Trump Public Charge gave the term additional powers, including it to mean the following immigrants could be legally denied a green card:

  1. Those who have used:
    • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or Food Stamps
    • Federal housing subsidies
    • Section 8 housing and rental assistance
    • Medicaid for nonemergency medical care
  2. Those who will use those benefits in the future because of:
    • How old they are, such younger than 18 or older than 61
    • A medical condition they may have that could prevent them from working
    • A larger family size and thus, more dependents
    • The wrong employment history, education, skills, language proficiency, etc.
    • Negative credit history and financial liabilities that will prevent them from covering the cost of their healthcare in an emergency
  3. Those who don’t have sufficient financial resources:

New Public Charge Rules make personal financial resources mandatory for citizenship. The candidate will submit Form I-944 or the Declaration of Self-Sufficiency to help the DHS decide if they may become a drain of the country’s resources later on.

Who is Affected by the Public Charge Rule Change?

An Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds verdict threatens all green card applicants, including those coming to the US based on their relationship to a US citizen (removing about 800,000 or more candidates from the pool) or a sponsorship by a US employer (deducting almost 140,000 green card applicants in a year)

Temporary/nonimmigrant visa holders aren’t safe from the rule either. They must demonstrate that they didn’t receive any of the above-mentioned public benefits longer than 12 months in any 36-month period. Two receipts of the benefits are equal to a month.

The public charge rule will not be applicable to refugees, asylees, pregnant women, younger children, and some other special categories.

What Effects Could the Rule Change Have on the Nation?

Opponents of this new scheme can foresee a huge humanitarian impact on the US. Racially biased, it proves to the world that America isn’t about a new start. Most of the new blood that will come into the country will be white. Trump has already decreased the cap on the number of refugees that the US admits each year. His administration also introduced a merit-based immigration system, which, thankfully, wasn’t enforced. The government is also tightening regulations around asylum-seekers and detainment of the not-yet legal immigrants.

The new regulations could keep non-green cardholders from seeking medical help. The quality of life for them will lower abysmally since they cannot turn to the government for help. An increase in spreading of various illnesses and a mass exodus of diverse people from states like California, Texas, and Florida with huge immigrant populations are imminent.

How the Trump Administration Justifies the Change

The Trump administration claims that this step is in favor of the American public. Its spokesperson mentions this will only increase the influx of potential taxpayers and self-sufficient immigrants as opposed to those who may become dependent on the country’s welfare system. They justify this step by saying it is not racially-motivated or nationality-biased.

What Critics of the Public Charge Rule Change Are Saying?

Critics are against the creation of a new income requirement that will apply to both visa applicants and their sponsors. Going directly against the Federal Poverty Guidelines, the new limit will raise the household income threshold by about 250%. The annual household income must be between $41,150-$73,550 for making immigration possible.

Opponents say that this will affect life in the US in the following ways:

  1. Close to half of all marriage green card applicants could be turned down, forcing about 200,000 couples to separate or leave the country
  2. More than half of the family-based green card applicants may also receive a refusal because of the income requirements. The other half will be in danger because of the use of government resources in the past
  3. About 70% of applicants from Central America and Africa, more than 50% from Asia, and less than 40% from Oceania, Europe, and Canada will be affected by this step

Critics of the rule change are outspoken about how it targets Latinos. The fact that non-green cardholders cannot partake in government benefits will ensure their living conditions may become worse.

What’s Being Done to Fight the New Public Charge Rule?

Various organizations are against this Proposed Public Charge Rule and want to prevent the final regulation from ever taking place. To that end, the National Immigration Law Center may soon be filing litigation. Their pre-emptive actions helped when the current administration introduced DACA. Moreover, the rich-in-diversity counties of San Francisco and Santa Clara filed a lawsuit against Trump’s administration. The more counties that will join them, the more successful the attempt will be.

Contact Attorney Eric Price Today!

Have more questions on the Public Charge Changes? Then get in touch with Eric Price as soon as you can, or you might be endangering your future in the US!

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