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Catholic Charities USA Issues Statement on Change to Public Charge Rules

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September 28, 2018

Last Saturday, the Department of Homeland Security released a proposed rule change to the inadmissibility on public charges ground which would impact immigrants attempting to change their immigration status. This rule does not apply to refugees or people granted asylum. A public charge is a term used by U.S. immigration officials to refer to a person who is or could become primarily dependent on the government for subsistence through certain public benefits. The proposed rule change would shift from considering only cash benefits to now considering noncash benefits. The current list of proposed noncash benefits includes:

  • Medicaid (except for "emergency Medicaid" and certain disability services related to education)
  • Medicare Part D Low Income Subsidy
  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps)
  • Benefits provided for institutionalization for long-term care
  • Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program
  • Section 8 Project-Based Rental Assistance, and
  • Public Housing

The proposed rule does not include receipt of the following benefit programs:

  • Emergency medical assistance
  • Disaster relief
  • National school lunch or school breakfast programs
  • Foster care and adoption
  • Head Start
  • Child Health Insurance Program (CHIP or SCHIP)
  • Earned Income Tax Credit or Child Tax Credit
  • Subsidized health insurance under the Affordable Care Act
  • Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)
  • Housing assistance, or
  • Energy benefits.

The Department of Homeland Security estimates that 382,000 green card applications a year would be subject to the new proposed rule. Catholic Charities USA President and CEO, Sister Donna Markham OP, PhD said in statement, "our initial review indicates the rule is another attack on migrants whose only "mistake" is losing a job or their economic support." Read the full statement here.