Protect Immigrant Health Care - December 5

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Join people and organizations around the country for a Health Advocacy Comment Day - Wednesday, December 5th - to protect access to health care for immigrants and their citizen children. 

The Trump Administration is proposing extensive changes to the “public charge” rules that affect immigrants to the United States. These new rules will discourage immigrant families from accessing needed health care programs and change who can acquire “green card” status. You can help stop this proposal by filing a public comment by December 10.

For more information and an easy way to file a comment as an individual, go to https://protectingimmigrantfamilies.org/, the website of the Protecting Immigrant Families campaign.
Organizations can also submit comments identifying the harm this rule would cause on the comment portal on regulations.gov

 Background:
The “public charge” test has been part of federal immigration law for over 100 years. It is designed to identify people who may depend on the government as their main source of support. If the government believes someone is likely to become a “public charge,” it may choose to deny them admission to the U.S. or lawful permanent residence (“green card” status). Historically, the federal government has considered a very short list of bene­fits when determining who is likely to become a “public charge.”

 The proposed rule is a radical departure from longstanding immigration policy. If finalized in its proposed form, major changes would include:

  • New definition of “public charge.” The definition would change from someone who relies on the government as their main source of support to someone who participates in applicable health, nutrition or housing support programs.

  • More factors considered. In evaluating a person’s likelihood of becoming a public charge – with criteria including age, health, family status, and education – the proposal gives negative weight to children or seniors, persons with limited English proficiency, poor credit history, limited education, or a large family. The proposal also includes a radical new wealth test that would make it difficult for low-or moderate-income applicants (with income below 250 percent of the federal poverty line, or nearly $63,000 for a family of 4) to become green card holders.

  • Additional benefits included. The proposal expands the types of benefits that could be considered in a “public charge” test to include key programs that provide no income support but merely help participants address their basic needs. These programs include:
    - Medicaid(with limited exceptions including Medicaid coverage of an “emergency
    medical condition,” and certain disability services related to education);
    - Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)(formerly “food stamps”);
    - Medicare Part D Low Income Subsidy (assistance in purchasing medicine);
    - Federal Public Housing, Section 8 housing vouchers, and Section 8 Project-
    Based rental assistance.

These changes would devastate low-income immigrant families and worsen the chilling effect already seen across the country in immigrant communities, where families are disenrolling from health programs or forgoing medical care for fear of retaliation, like having their immigration status denied. 

Jane McNichol