It is vital patients and their families continue to access medical care and other social services without fear of adverse immigration consequences as healthy families are better able to assimilate and contribute to the U.S. economy.
PUBLIC CHARGE UPDATE <FEB 2020>
The U.S. Supreme Court has issued an order that allows the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS’s) public charge regulations to take effect, except in Illinois, where they remain blocked by a court order. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has announced that applications and petitions filed (or submitted electronically) on or after February 24, 2020, will be adjudicated under the new regulations. The regulations add certain noncash health, nutrition, and housing benefits to the public charge assessment. Receipt before Feb. 24 of these newly added benefits will not be considered in DHS’s public charge decisions.
The Supreme Court’s decision is limited to a determination that a nationwide preliminary injunction issued by a U.S. district court in New York should be “stayed” while the litigation challenging the regulations proceeds in lower courts. (That preliminary injunction temporarily prevented DHS from implementing the new regulations.) The Court’s opinion did not address the merits of the underlying case.
- READ MORE HERE
- Public Charge Inadmissibility Final Rule: Revised Forms and Updated Policy Manual Guidance
What is Public Charge?
Public Charge is a term used in immigration law to describe an individual who is dependent on the government. When determining if a person is likely to become a public charge, the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) requires the government to consider a variety of factors, including the person’s age, health, income/resources, family situation, education and skills. This is called the totality of circumstances test. The statute does not include an official formula for weighing the various factors; rather, the Federal official has significant discretion in deciding whether to approve or deny an application. It is important to understand that the public charge assessment is determining whether, in the opinion of an immigration official, the person is more likely than not to become a public charge in the future. A person does not need to have used any benefits to be deemed likely to become a public charge.
What does the final Public Charge rule do?
The final rule changes the definition of public charge from a person dependent on the government for financial and material support to “a person who uses or receives one or more specified public benefits for at least 12 months in a 36-month period.” The Administration indicated that if a person uses more than one of the listed public benefits a month, then each benefit would count for a separate month (i.e. if a person is using both Medi-Cal and SNAP in one month, then it would count for two months). The rule also creates new standards and definitions around the factors considered in the totality of circumstances test, making it harder for people with lower income, health conditions or less education to achieve a successful outcome. The rule explicitly clarifies that receipt of or application for benefits on behalf of someone else does not constitute receipt of benefits.
DACA: Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals
On June 15, 2012, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced that it would not deport certain undocumented youth who came to the United States as children. Under a directive from the DHS secretary, these youth may be granted a type of temporary permission to stay in the U.S. called “deferred action.” The Obama administration called this program Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA.
The U.S. Supreme Court announced on June 28, 2019, that it will grant the Trump administration’s request that it review the federal court cases challenging Trump’s termination of DACA. For now, the three U.S. district court orders allowing DACA recipients to submit renewal applications remain in effect, and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is still accepting DACA renewal applications from anyone who has previously had DACA.
RENEWAL APPLICATIONS ARE STILL BEING ACCEPTED. On January 13, 2018, USCIS announced that it is once again accepting DACA renewal applications, because of an order issued by a U.S. district court in California. The court order was issued in a case challenging the Trump administration’s termination of the DACA program. A frequently-asked-questions document authored by NILC and United We Dream and based on the Jan. 13 announcement is available below.
USCIS stopped accepting first-time DACA applications (that is, applications from people who didn’t already have DACA) as of October 6, 2017. Under the government’s DACA-termination memo, people who already had DACA and whose work permits would expire between Sept. 5, 2017, and March 5, 2018, were eligible to apply for a two-year renewal if they applied by Oct. 5, 2017. Court orders in the California case and a similar case in New York, along with USCIS’s Jan. 13 announcement, have made it possible, again, for people who have DACA now or who’ve had it in the past to submit DACA renewal applications.
- National Immigration Law Center (NILC)
- Keep Your Benefits
- PUBLIC CHARGE LITIGATION TRACKER
- CPCA Resources Page
- "Public Charge Finalized DHS Rule" Presented by Jack Dailey, Dir. of Policy and Training/HCA Coordinator,
Consumer Center for Health Education & Advocacy, Legal Aid Society of San Diego, Inc. (FEB 2020)
- Changes to Public Charge: Analysis and Frequently Asked Questions
- Public Charge Update: What Advocates Need to Know Fact Sheet
- Prepare your Health Center for Implementation of the Public Charge Rule Check List (CPCA)
- List of Research on Public Charge
- Public Charge Talking Points: How to Answer Patient Questions (CPCA)
- Protecting Immigrant Families, Advancing Our Future
- National Immigration Law Center (DACA page)
- California Immigrant Policy Center