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Public Charge and the Negative Impact on Youth and Families

by School's Out Washington | | Posted under Afterschool and Summer News, Policy & Legislation, School's Out News

By Sierra Wagner, SOWA's Expanded Learning Opportunities Vista (Edited by Protecting Immigrant Families)

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) proposed a change to the Public Charge rule in relation to immigration. The new proposed rule expands the criteria significantly in a way that will “make it harder for many immigrants to obtain legal permanent residency (green cards)” (PIF-WA FactSheet, 2018). This negatively affects immigrants by:

Immigrant families will have to make an impossible choice between meeting new regulations and children’s basic health, food security, and rights.  The rule will also have an extensive effect that could cause much confusion and discourage immigrants from enrolling in important public health programs, like Medicaid and food assistance, even if the public charge test doesn’t apply to them.

Between October 10th and December 10th, ANYONE can comment on the proposed rule in the Federal Register. The Protecting Immigrant Families Coalition of Washington has set up an easy comment portal for people to choose a template comment to personalize and submit directly to the Federal Register.

Comments are a direct line for your voice to reach regulators and an ability to check the executive branch of power. Comments can delay and/or shape the rulemaking process and create a record for future potential litigation.

Only first and last name are required to comment, but you can also submit on behalf of a third party or on behalf of someone else. Unfortunately, comments must be posted in English but please attach an untranslated version as well. Make comments as unique as possible. If an organization offers a template you’d like to use, make sure your comment is at least 30% different. Using personal experiences helps make each comment unique. If you are an expert, please attach relevant research or even CV to your comment.

If you or anyone you know is currently enrolled in public benefits, please stress that this rule is just a proposal; the law has not changed yet for immigrants currently in the U.S. who are eligible for their green card. The rule may not ever become law, but if it does, it will not be retroactive. This proposed rule does not affect all immigrants. People NOT subject to a public charge test include people who already have their green card (LPRs), refugees, asylees, individuals with TPS, survivors of domestic violence seeking relief through VAWA and individuals who have or are applying for U or T visas. This is only applied in the US when a person is adjusting their status to a lawful permanent resident.

Although this proposed ruling will not include afterschool programs, School’s Out Washington still has concerns regarding the impact on this rule change including access to health care, food security, and other educational opportunities. For more information and detail on what this proposed rule means for families and children in afterschool, read this article by Erik Peterson at Afterschool Alliance. 

To learn more about Public Charge in Washington, visit this fact sheet from Protecting Immigrant Families Washington State. 

Make a comment regarding this regulation before December 10.



Luthra, Shefali. "5 Things To Know About Trump’s New ‘Public Charge’ Immigration Proposal." Kaiser Health News (KHN), KHN, 25 Sept. 2018, khn.org/news/5-things-to-know-about-trumps-new-public-charge-immigration-proposal/. Accessed 7 Nov. 2018.

Peterson, Erik. "Public charge: What is it and what does it mean for afterschool?." Afterschool Snack, Afterschool Alliance, 30 Oct. 2018, www.afterschoolalliance.org/afterschoolsnack/Public-charge-What-is-it-and-what-does-it-mean-for_10-30-2018.cfm. Accessed 7 Nov. 2018.

Protecting Immigrant Families. (October 12, 2018). (Live Webinar) "PIF Campaign: Prepping for Public Comments"

Public Charge: A New Threat to Immigrant Families (n.d.). In PIF-WA FactSheet. Retrieved November 13, 2018, from http://childrensalliance.org/sites/default/files/2018-10/PIF-WA_Fact_Sheet.pdf

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