The Trump administration has notoriously targeted immigrants. The proposed Public Charge Rule is no exception.
First, it is important that everyone understand the popular misconception of immigrants using public benefits. The fact of the matter is that both documented and undocumented immigrants are statutorily ineligible for most public benefit programs. Thus, Trump’s decision to create this new rule is purely political and not based in any empirically supported facts that immigrants are abusing (or even utilizing) the United States’ assistance programs.
Most recently, this has taken the form of changing the present public charge rules. If this rule passes, it will be Trump’s most far reaching policy impacting immigrants. This rule is incredibly cruel, particularly given the fact that immigrants consistently work more hours than native born Americans, at consistently lower wages. Yet, the White House would like the public to believe that immigrants are arriving in the United States to obtain and utilize our public benefits, although, the reality is that this simply is not true.
Presently, if you are low income, and you are unable to prove that you would be able to support yourself with your current financial situation in the United States, you can obtain what is called an “affidavit of support” from an eligible sponsor and still be able to receive permanent resident status (a green card).
Right now, the press is focusing on a few parts of the new rule. Essentially, if you are using food stamps, any type of federal housing or rental assistance, non-emergency Medicaid, or Medicare Part D benefits, even if you are presently eligible, you are taking a risk that the government may deny your green card or visa application down the road.
Yet, this is only the beginning. If this rule passes, immigration officers will be able to deny applicants if they are simply “likely to become a public charge at any point in the future.” The actual use of government programs is only one of some 15 factors that the government will be able to scrutinize applicants under. This list includes (but is not limited to):
1. Prior or current use of certain public benefits.
2. Being older than 61.
3. Being younger than 18.
4. Having any medical condition that could interfere with school or work.
5. Not having sufficient resources to cover such a medical condition.
6. Not having private health insurance.
7. Having several children or other dependents.
8. Having financial liabilities.
9. Having “bad credit” or a low credit score.
10.Having no employment history.
11. Not having a high school diploma or higher education.
12. Not having “adequate education and skills” to hold a job.
13. Not speaking English.
14. Receiving an application fee waiver from DHS.
15. Having a sworn financial sponsor whom DHS feels is “unlikely” to follow.
How can one get over this incredibly difficult criterion? You are going to need to demonstrate a household income above 250% of the federal poverty guidelines. That’s currently $41,150 for a couple with no children and $73,550 for a family of five. Needless to say, many families will not be able to meet this standard and will be subject to denial.
As of October 1, 2018, this rule has not passed. Yet, please stay tuned as we will be blogging updates on the proposed Public Charge Rule as they develop.
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Immigration law can be complicated and this article does not exhaust all the circumstances surrounding the proposed Public Charge Rule. These issues can be extremely complex, and a single misstep could potentially lead to a deportation or other immigration penalties. If you have any questions regarding your case, please do not hesitate to contact our office.
Call our law firm to consult with an immigration attorney today at: (949) 478-4936.