TRUMP RULE PROPOSED: Immigrant Families Forced to Choose Food v. Legal Status

September 23rd, 2018

Proposed DHS Rule Attacks Immigrant Families, U.S.-Born Children

NEW YORK, NY – The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has proposed a new rule that makes immigrant families choose between using public health, food, and housing programs, and obtaining a visa or legal residency in the U.S.

In response, Steven Choi, Executive Director of the New York Immigration Coalition, said:

"Trump's new rule doesn't make America great– it just makes our country poorer. If approved, this rule will force immigrant families to make an impossible choice between legal status and the health and safety of their loved ones - many of whom are American citizens. Infants will go hungry, children will lose their health insurance, and immigrant families will struggle to keep a roof over their heads. Barring today’s immigrant communities from these programs is a blind rejection of our country’s tradition of aiding immigrants with social, health, and housing programs.

The Trump Administration is trying to score cheap political points targeting immigrants, but the long-term impact on hundreds of thousands of families and children in America will be devastating."

The NYIC and other advocates, legal service providers, elected officials will hold the following events:

When: Monday, September 24th, 2018 at 11am
Where: The New York Immigration Coalition, 131 West 33rd Suite, Suite 610, New York, NY, 10001
Who: The New York Immigration Coalition, advocates, lawyers, elected officials
What: Press conference about Trump’s proposed rule on public charge

When: Monday, September 24th, 2018 at 5:30 pm.
Where: Corner of Orchard and Delancey Streets, New York, NY, 10002
Who: Advocates, Community Members, Elected Officials
What: Protest Trump’s attack on immigrant families over public charge

Many legal immigrants will be at serious risk of being unable to renew their visas or become permanent residents if they apply for certain federal assistance programs. The rule affects programs for children, many of whom are U.S. citizens in mixed status families.

This proposed rule would penalize many immigrants for using federal assistance programs such as Medicaid and Medicare Part D and subsidized housing support.

The public can submit comments about the proposed rule change once it has been published on the Federal Register.


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.