Trump Administration’s Proposed Changes to Public Charge Reverses Longstanding Policies and Principles


WASHINGTON – Today, the Department of Homeland Security announced a proposed regulation that could deny permanent resident status (“green cards”) or entry into the United States to immigrants who use a wide range of needed government services, including health insurance, nutrition programs and housing for people struggling to make ends meet. For over two decades, use of these programs has never resulted in the denial of permanent resident status. By expanding the definition of “public charge,” the regulation, if implemented, will have a devastating impact on immigrants, particularly Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) including their U.S.-born children.

“The Trump Administration is putting families in the position of weighing use of basic services that will improve their health and well-being with the constant fear of government retribution,” said Ko Chin, President and CEO of the Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum (APIAHF). “If implemented, this proposed regulation would have a devastating impact on AAPI communities. Over 30 percent of the green cards issued yearly are to people from Asia and Pacific Island nations. 1.4 million AAPI immigrants are in families that use CHIP or Medicaid, including 182,000 children. As a result of this proposal, health disparities will widen even further, and pregnant women and children will not get the nutrition and health care they need.”

Under the current policy, individuals and families who are seeking to enter the U.S. or to obtain green cards must show that they are not likely to depend on the government for their subsistence income, such as cash welfare through Temporary Assistance Through Needy Families.  The proposed regulation would expand this definition of a “public charge” to include usage of non-cash assistance including health, nutrition and housing programs. If the proposed regulation is implemented, accessing Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Medicaid and many other non-cash programs would be used in deciding if individuals and families can obtain a green card.  

“With today’s public charge announcement, the Trump Administration is attempting to divide us based on who we are, where we come from, and how much money we make,” said Ko Chin. “This is the same attack on our communities we have seen before — labeling those who are deserving and not. Not only is this an egregious policy, but it undermines longstanding immigration policies and practices under both Republican and Democratic administrations. We stand together with immigrant communities because we believe that we are all created equal and deserve to be treated with dignity and fairness.”

APIAHF is part of a nationwide Protecting Immigrant Families coalition effort asking all Americans to take action against the proposed regulation. Once the proposed regulation is officially published in the Federal Registrar, Americans will have 60 days to submit comments. Sign-up here to receive an alert when our comment portal is live.