In talking with partners around the state, we know there are major questions about the statement on proposed changes to the public charge rule sent out by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on September 22. The League is part of a coalition of groups known as Protecting Immigrant Families Michigan, and we’ve worked together to get the latest updates so you can access the most recent information.
What’s the problem we’re facing?
The Trump administration is pushing this draft federal rule that could essentially force immigrant families to choose between getting the help they need and reuniting with their loved ones. The press release from DHS signaled the forthcoming publication of this rule in the Federal Register, where it would be up for public review.
Simply put, the term “public charge” refers to a test used by the federal government to determine whether immigrants on the road to citizenship will use government benefits as their main source of support. Traditionally, the public charge test has only been applied to immigrants who depend on cash assistance or institutional long-term care. If immigrants are deemed a public charge, the government can deny entry to the U.S. or approval for applications of lawful permanent residency.
In an unprecedented move, the Department of Homeland Security has proposed expanding the definition of public charge to include the use of other programs that improve maternal and child well-being. Based on DHS’ draft, these programs include: non-emergency Medicaid, Supplemental Nutrition and Safety Program (SNAP formerly known as “food stamps”), housing assistance such as Section 8 housing vouchers, and Medicaid Part D Low Income Subsidy. The change would likely lead to a large number of families declining necessary services they are eligible for out of fear of jeopardizing their immigration status.
Once the proposed rule is officially published in the Federal Register, which could happen any day, the public will be able to submit comments for 60 days. After DHS considers public comments received on the proposed rule, it plans to issue a final public charge rule that will include an effective date at least 60 days after the date the final rule is published. Now is our chance to stop these changes.
Helpful links for better understanding the public charge issue:
PIF-MI Campaign: Resources for Immigrants and Advocates
Fact Sheet: Public Charge’s Influence on Kids and Families in Michigan
Press Release: Trump administration continues its attack on Michigan immigrant families by proposing an abusive expansion of the public charge policy
What you can do to protect families today:
Take the pledge to speak out against changes to the public charge rule
Join the PIF-Michigan Campaign
Participate in the PIF-Michigan Week of Action on Social Media (Follow #PIFMI on Twitter from October 1- October 8)