The Trump administration's proposed changes to the public charge rule would have widespread negative consequences for people with disabilities and their families. Under the current law, most immigrants seeking a green card, which grants them authorization to live and work permanently in the United States, must pass an archaic public-charge test. An individual can be designated a public charge if they are determined likely to become primarily dependent on long-term cash assistance from programs such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) or institutionalized for long-term care paid for with Medicaid.
Even though the current public-charge test discriminates against immigrants with disabilities, relatively few disabled immigrants with family support in the United States fail it. But the administration is preparing to drastically expand the public-charge test, including by explicitly targeting disabled immigrants. This issue brief considers what the proposed changes would mean for the health and safety of disabled immigrants.