Advancing Justice-LA urges the community to not be alarmed
LOS ANGELES, CA — On Wednesday, October 10, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officially posted proposed changes to public charge regulations in the Federal Register. These proposed changes are open for public comment for 60 days and are not final.
The posted regulations change the public charge test and greatly expand the number of public benefit programs to include health care programs, such as non-emergency Medicaid or the Medicare Part D Low Income Subsidy Program, nutrition programs, such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and housing assistance programs, such as the Section 8 housing and rental assistance programs.
“This is another attack on immigrant families by the Trump Administration,” said Congresswoman Judy Chu, U.S. Representative, CA 27th District. “What’s worse is that the proposed changes set up an elitist system, essentially putting a price tag on staying in this country. An immigrant’s worth should not be measured by how much they make — that has never been an American value.”
These proposed changes are not final and the rules governing public charge in the U.S. have not yet changed. In addition, the proposed changes will not affect people who are applying for citizenship; people who have become citizens; and certain groups of immigrants, including refugees, asylees, T- or U-visa applicants/holders, Violence Against Women Act self-petitioners, special immigrant juveniles, and certain other immigrants who have a special relationship with the U.S. or came here under certain humanitarian programs.
“The proposed public charge regulations pose a cruel choice for families who now have to balance keeping their families together with seeking medical care, putting food on the table, or keeping a roof over their heads,” said Doreena Wong, Health Access Project Director at Advancing Justice-LA. “We know there’s a lot of fear, but we urge everyone to stay enrolled in any public benefit program you need to keep your family healthy.”
Annually, about 40% of green card holders are from Asian and Pacific Island nations, and family sponsorship accounts for most of them. Many community members have heard about the proposed changes, which have caused much confusion, anxiety, and fear. Already, the proposed regulation has cast a “chilling effect” on the community.
“Seventy-seven percent of our patients are on Medi-Cal, 62% are Asian, and they’re primarily low-income,” said Penny Chen, Member and Community Service Manager at Asian Pacific Health Care Ventures. “Many of our patients are scared and confused because of the proposed public charge rule. Even patients who are green card holders do not want to apply for Medi-Cal. These proposed rules will only make our broken health care system worse.”
“Even before the proposed public charge rules were posted, many members of our South Asian clients were not applying for public benefits in fear that it would adversely affect their immigration status,” said Shikha Bhatnagar, Executive Director of South Asian Network. “Even mothers are refusing to get food stamps for their U.S. citizen children because they are so frightened.”
Immigrant families are encouraged to continue using public benefits they need in order to keep healthy and strong. It will take at least several months for these proposed rules to be finalized and the rule would not be retroactive so the use of benefits before its effective date will not be considered in any public charge determination.
Very importantly, community members can fight these changes – we urge everyone to voice their opposition to the proposed public charge rules by sharing their story and submitting their comments through Advancing Justice-LA’s comment portal: http://bit.ly/AAAJ-public-charge. The open comment period ends December 10, 2018.
“We will not stand for this xenophobic attack on our communities,” said Reshma Shamasunder, Vice President of Program Strategy at Advancing Justice-LA. “This is the time to take action and prevent the proposed public charge rules from taking effect. We urge you to call your representative, submit a comment through our portal, and share your stories.”
If any person needs additional assistance or has concerns or questions regarding public charge, they can visit our public charge website (advancingjustice-la.org/public-charge) or call Advancing Justice-LA’s in-language helplines:
Advancing Justice-LA knows the value of families. Having a roof over their heads, nutritious meals, and medical care are basic human rights — everyone should be able to access these services during tough times. This is why we will continue to fight for our communities and are committed to stopping the public charge rules from being finalized.