Advocates Urge Families to Fight Fear with Facts as Public Charge Implementation Date Announced

January 31, 2020

Juan Gastelum, NILC, 213-375-3149, [email protected]
Barbara Semedo, CLASP, 202-906-8010, [email protected]

Advocates Urge Families to Fight Fear with Facts as Public Charge Implementation Date Announced

WASHINGTON, DC — The U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced Thursday its intent to begin implementing the Trump administration’s public charge regulation (PDF) on February 24 and that an applicant’s use of public programs covered by the new policy prior to that date will not be considered.

Few people who are subject to the public charge test qualify for public programs covered by the regulation, but the regulation’s expanded criteria, including age, credit score, and disability, are likely to harm many and dramatically reshape our nation’s immigration system. The fear generated by the rule in immigrant communities threatens the health, nutrition, and housing of millions of families — overwhelmingly families of color — all over the country.

Advocates leading the nationwide campaign against the policy have prepared simple, accessible materials offering accurate information for families (PDF). Those advocates reacted to Thursday’s announcement:

“Good governance should strive to set all families up to thrive, but under Trump, our government is instead intentionally harming families,” said Marielena Hincapié, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center. “This fight is about the country we want to be and having a government that works for all families. We will continue fighting for a federal government that supports, not attacks, families in America.”

“The regulation itself directly affects benefit use by only a small number of people, but the Trump administration is counting on fear to amplify the harm,” said Olivia Golden, executive director of the Center for Law and Social Policy. “Fight fear with facts and make the best decision to protect your family.”

In a 5-4 Monday ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court lifted the last remaining injunctions blocking the regulation’s implementation nationwide. Those injunctions were imposed by a federal court hearing Make the Road New York v. Cuccinelli and New York v. Department of Homeland Security. A separate injunction in Cook County, Illinois, and Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, Inc. v. Kevin K. McAeenan, et. al. remains in effect but applies only in Illinois. Those suits, as well as others being litigated in other jurisdictions, argue that the regulation is an end-run around Congress, inconsistent with research and evidence, and based on racial animus. Litigation will continue as the regulation is implemented.

The regulation’s proposal in 2018 prompted massive popular resistance, generating a record-breaking 266,077 public comments, overwhelmingly opposed to it. The regulation has already done considerable harm. For the first time in more than a decade, the U.S.’s child uninsured rate has increased (PDF), and the Urban Institute reports that fear generated by the regulation is driving down health care and nutrition access in communities of color.