Federal: Public Charge

What you need to know about “public charge”

What’s going on?

On October 10th, 2018, the Trump Administration formally announced a proposed rule that will likely increase hunger, poverty and poor health among immigrants in our state and our country.

As of June 2019, no final rule has been published and as such the existing policies are still in place. Households with immigrants legally eligible to use public benefits are still permitted to lawfully use those benefits without fear of a "public charge" determination. 

What is the rule?

The rule centers around “public charge,” a designation placed on immigrants who are utilizing government support programs. The reliance on these support programs is evaluated when an immigrant is applying for a visa or green card.

Right now, only cash assistance and supplemental security income (SSI) are taken into account when determining “public charge.” But the proposed rule would broaden the definition of “public charge” to include use of one or more public benefits, such as:

         -The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
         -Non-emergency Medicaid (MassHealth)
         -Low-income subsidies for prescription medication
         -Low-income housing

Why does this matter?

If finalized, this rule would deter immigrants from accessing critical benefits like SNAP. It would increase fear and force people to make the impossible choice between food and family.  

Food is a basic right for everyone – regardless of immigration status. At Project Bread, we work to expand access to food for families across Massachusetts. This new rule would send our country in the wrong direction – decreasing access to food and threatening the health, nutrition and future of millions of people. It is unacceptable.

You can also:

Access resources if you or someone you know may be impacted by the proposed rule.
Review the National Immigration Law Center's "Know Your Rights" and share these resources with an immigrant neighbors and clients.
Read Project Bread’s statement on the proposed rule.
Read Project Bread's comment on "public charge".