Californians, stand up for immigrants targeted by ‘public charge’ rule

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

By Ellen LaPointe, Christine Essel, Debbie McKeon and Daranee Petsod 

On Oct. 11, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California temporarily blocked the federal government’s changes to the “public charge” rule, after hearing arguments from the state of California, Santa Clara County and San Francisco, along with health care, legal services and immigrant organizations.

Three days later, judges in New York and Washington also blocked the rule.

Under the new rule, the use of benefits such as non-emergency Medi-Cal for non-pregnant adults, CalFresh and certain types of federal housing assistance, among other programs, will count against immigrants when they apply for a Permanent Resident Card (a “green card”) or for a visa to enter the United States. It will force families to choose between meeting basic human needs — housing, food, and health care — and securing the possibility of a long-term future in the U.S.

The rule is already having a chilling effect. Misinformation and uncertainty about the rule’s long-term implications are leading immigrant families across California, including those with U.S. citizen children, to avoid public assistance, such as health care and nutrition programs for which they are legally eligible and which help them thrive.

But the temporary injunctions remind us that California doesn’t have to stand for this. We can unite across our state in support of our immigrant community.