IAFC Statement on Trump Administration’s Public Charge Rule

August 15, 2019

Chicago – On Wednesday, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security released a new “public charge” rule that will jeopardize the health and well-being of millions of children across the country. Mandates set forth in this new rule will force families to choose between risking their immigration status and accessing health, nutrition, and housing benefits.

The new “public charge” rule, which goes into effect on October 15, 2019, directs immigration officials to reject applications from individuals who seek to remain in or enter the country if they have received—or are judged more likely than not to receive in the future— any of an extensive array of need-based public benefits. The existing public charge definition has only applied to Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Supplemental Security Income (SSI), and government-funded institutionalized care. This new rule expands the definition to include Medicaid, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and housing assistance.

While use of subsidy programs including the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP), Head Start, and WIC will not count against a child or parent’s immigration application under the new rule, many families will be afraid to enroll in any of these programs.

“There is no moral justification for the actions of this administration when it comes to our immigrant families,” said Maria Whelan, President and CEO of Illinois Action for Children. “The cruelty of this rule—essentially forcing parents to choose whether they will get deported or their kids will eat—is beyond belief.”

The Administration finalized this new rule despite a record number of comments (266,000) submitted, an overwhelming majority of which were in opposition.