NCLEJ Submits Public Comment Opposing Proposed “Public Charge” Rule

In September, the Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) announced a proposed rule that would expand the definition of a “public charge” and change the way immigration officials administer the “public charge” test to determine whether to admit or grant legal permanent resident status to non-citizens by predicting their ability to support themselves in the future. Under current policy, the test is narrowly based on the receipt of cash assistance or long-term institutionalized care services from the government.

The proposed rule would particularly harm immigrants lawfully employed in this country. Immigrants often work in our country’s lowest paid jobs, toiling without benefits—including employer funded health care and child care. Prior administrations have previously explicitly excluded from public charge consideration work supports such as Medicaid, SNAP (more commonly known as Food Stamps), and child care. Federal law recognizes that allowing eligible immigrants access to these benefits enables them to remain employed,support their families, and contribute to society. These limited benefits would also preserve health, housing, and nutrition in the event that an immigrant head of household loses a job through unemployment, illness, or other catastrophe. The proposed rule expressly abandons these carefully considered and successful policies in favor of an explicit anti-immigrant bias.

Additionally, the proposed rule is likely to have a discriminatory impact on immigrants with disabilities or chronic health conditions and families supporting children with special health needs. If the rule is finalized, immigrant officials would deny immigrants admission or legal permanent status because of a disability, a diagnosis of a serious medical condition, or a family’s inability to pay out-of-pocket for medical treatment or private insurance. The proposed rule will also likely disproportionately impact immigrant families of color, many of whom rely on benefits programs to help meet their basic needs.

The rule will harm the healthcare and safety net systems that help all of us. If the proposed rule is finalized, it will impact all families—immigrant families, mixed-status families, and even non-immigrant families—who depend on the safety net for income support.

Read our full comment letter here.

These changes cannot take effect until the Administration reviews and responds to public comments. To learn more about the proposed rule,visit