Public Charge: A New Threat to Immigrant Families

Publication date: 
September 2018

What is Public Charge?

Part of federal immigration law for over a hundred years, the “public charge” test is designed to identify people who may depend on the government as their main source of support. If the government determines that a person is likely to become a “public charge,” it can deny a person admission to the U.S. or lawful permanent residence (or “green card” status).

The White House is now proposing to change this long-standing policy by broadly expanding the forms of public assistance counted when making a “public charge” determination. This would force immigrant families to make an impossible choice between meeting basic needs and keeping their families together in this country.

Public Charge Rule Would Harm Health, Well-Being of Millions

If finalized, Trump’s proposal would fundamentally change who we are as a nation—transforming us from a country that welcomes people who plan to work hard and achieve a better life, to one rigged in favor of the wealthy. It would also put the health and wellbeing of millions of people at great risk and violates our core American values. How you live your life and contribute to your community should define you in this country, not how you look or how much money you have.

The proposal would make—and has already made—immigrant families afraid to seek programs that support their basic needs. These programs help them stay strong and productive, and raise children who thrive. With about one in four children having at least one immigrant parent, this issue touches millions and is critical now and for our nation’s future.