BREAKING: 14 Immigrants + Allies Arrested During Civil Disobedience at the NYIC’s Rapid Response to Proposed DHS Rule

September 24th, 2018

NEW YORK, NY - This evening, fourteen immigrants and allies “The Delancey 14”, including staff from the New York Immigration Coalition, were arrested during an act of civil disobedience.  This action was in response to a new rule proposed by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) that forces immigrant families to choose between using social programs and maintaining their legal status in the U.S.

The civil disobedience took place on Delancey Street at the corner of Orchard Street, historically known as the home to generations of immigrants who built New York City.

Steven Choi, Executive Director of the New York Immigration Coalition, issued the following statement:

"Fourteen brave immigrants and allies put their bodies on the line at Delancey Street to fight back against this heinous rule. Simply put– this rule will inflict widespread suffering on our country. Trump wants to force immigrant families to make an impossible choice between legal status and the safety and well-being of their loved ones. Our state and country have thrived because immigrants succeeded with support from our nation’s social, health, and housing programs. Today’s immigrant communities must be afforded the same opportunities.”


DHS’s rule would replace existing guidelines that define a “public charge.” Currently, someone designated as a “public charge” is primarily dependent on a limited set of public benefits. This rule expands the definition of “public charge” to include an array of programs upon which working families depend.

Before being enacted, the proposed rule is subject to a 60-day public comment period. Public comments can be submitted by anyone once they are published on the Federal Register.

If enacted, immigration officials must consider the “totality of circumstances” to determine if a visa applicant is likely to depend on government assistance in the future. Circumstances include:

  • income

  • resources

  • age

  • family situation

  • health

Under federal law, certain immigrant populations are exempt from public charge consideration, including:

  • refugees

  • asylum seekers

  • survivors of trafficking

  • victims of domestic violence and other serious crimes (T or U visa applicants/holders)

  • VAWA self-petitioners

  • special immigrant juveniles

  • certain parolees.

Legal permanent residents are not subject to public charge scrutiny when they apply for citizenship. Undocumented immigrants and many other immigrant groups are already barred from using federal benefit programs.