Community Guide on “Public Charge”

On October 10, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) published a proposed “public charge” regulation. This rule expands the definition of public charge and targets anyone who uses applicable health, nutrition, or housing support programs. If the government determines that someone is likely to become a “public charge,” that person can be refused lawful permanent residence (“green card”),change/extension of non-immigrant visas, or entry into the U.S.

DHS wants to make the public charge test stricter and weigh certain factors more heavily such as age, income, health, and education. If the rule is approved, the government would consider these benefits and criteria under the public charge test:

  • Medicaid
  • Medicare Part D Low Income Subsidy
  • Long term nursing home care paid for by the government
  • Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
  • Federal public housing, Section 8 housing vouchers, and Section 8 rental assistance
  • Immigrant families of four earning less than $63,000 annually

The proposed rule will affect immigrants who are applying for lawful permanent residence (LPR or“green card”), LPRs who have been out of the country for 6+ months, foreign nationals seeking entry orre-entry into the U.S., non-immigrant visa holders who request a change or extension of visas (students, tourist, temporary workers)

The proposed rule will NOT affect: individuals applying for naturalization, citizens, refugees, asylees, VAWA petitioners, T or U visa applicants/holders, and other specific cases.

How does public charge negatively impact South Asians?

  • Nearly 472,000 or 10% of the approximately five million South Asians in the U.S. live in poverty.
  •  Among South Asian Americans, Pakistanis (15.8%), Nepali (23.9%), Bangladeshis (24.2%), and Bhutanese (33.3%) had the highest poverty rates.
  •  Over 10% of green card recipients in FY 2016 were from South Asian countries.
  •  Bangladeshi and Nepali communities have the lowest median household incomes out of all Asian American groups, earning $49,800 and $43,500 respectively.3
  • Nearly 61% of non-citizen Bangladeshi American families receive public benefits for at least one of the four federal programs including TANF, SSI, SNAP, and Medicaid/CHIP, 48% of non-citizen Pakistani families and 11% of non-citizen Indian families also receive public benefits.

If this rule goes into effect, a significant percentage of the nearly 5 million South Asians living in the United States would become a “public charge” simply for using public benefits they are entitled to.

What can you do?

  • If you receive public benefits, you should continue to stay enrolled!
  • Submit a comment: The public is encouraged to submit a comment opposing the discriminatory public charge rule before December 10. Visit SAALT’s campaign page to submit a unique comment explaining how public charge would impact you and your family! We want to submit 500 unique comments representing the nearly 500,000 South Asians living in poverty. Submit here: bit.ly/saaltpubliccharge 
  • Contact your Congressional representative: 202-224-3121 and tell them how this proposed rule would impact you.
  • Review and share SAALT’s Community Guide on Public Charge

SAALT Opposes Administration’s “Public Charge” Rule Published in Federal Register Today, Encourages Community Members to Submit Comments

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

The Department of Homeland Security published a new proposed “public charge” ruletoday that would deny permanent resident status (“green cards”) to lower income immigrants who use government services such as nutrition programs and housing assistance. The proposed rule was officially published in the Federal Register, triggering a 60-day period for the public to comment before the Department of Homeland Security proceeds with final rulemaking.
This rule punishes people for using the public benefits they are entitled to and is set up to prevent as many immigrants as possible from becoming legal permanent residents. It’s the latest in a series of attacks on all immigrant communities and their children. The rule directly impacts immigrants who are applying to become Lawful Permanent Residents (LPR’s or green card holders) or looking to extend or change the category of a nonimmigrant visa. If finalized, the Bangladeshi community would be the hardest hit among South Asian Americans. Nearly 61% of non-citizen Bangladeshi American families receive public benefits for at least one of the four federal programs including TANF, SSI, SNAP, and Medicaid/CHIP, according to a 2018 Migration Policy Institute Report. The same report showed that 48% of non-citizen Pakistani families and 11% of non-citizen Indian families also receive public benefits. Additionally, the proposed rule would flag all immigrant households of four earning less than $63,000 under negative scrutiny for the “public charge” test.
The impact of the rule would be felt across the South Asian American community, as over 10% of green card recipients in FY 2016 were from South Asian countries. Nearly 472,000 or 10% of the approximately five million South Asians in the United States live in poverty, according to a recent Pew Research Center study. In 2015, eight of nineteen Asian American groups had poverty rates higher than the U.S. average. Among those, Pakistani (15.8%), Nepali (23.9%), Bangladeshi (24.2%), and Bhutanese (33.3%) Americans had the highest poverty rates among South Asian American groups. The same study showed that Bangladeshi and Nepali communities had the lowest median household incomes out of all Asian American groups, which fell far below the $63,000 threshold. We encourage South Asian Americans to visit SAALT’s campaign page and easily submit a comment opposing the discriminatory “public charge” rule before December 10.
CONTACT: Sophia Qureshi, sophia@saalt.org

SAALT Denounces the Administration’s “Public Charge” Proposal to Criminalize Immigrants for Using Public Benefits

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Washington, D.C., South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT) condemns the Department of Homeland Security announcement of new proposed “public charge” rules that would deny permanent resident status (“green cards”) to immigrants who use government services such as nutrition programs and housing assistance. The new rule would also weigh age, health, and employability as factors to deny green cards. SAALT, along with immigrant and civil rights, public health, and labor organizations, are denouncing these changes that threaten families and children’s health. The proposed rules would relegate immigrants who are not yet citizens to second-class status by condemning their use of critical public benefits programs.
If implemented, the public charge regulation would undermine the safety, health, and security of immigrant families. Rumors of the proposal have already sown fear among immigrant families, many of whom have foregone essential health and nutrition services for which they are eligible. The new rule would hit South Asian American communities particularly hard, as over 10% of green card recipients in FY 2016 were from South Asian countries. According to a recent Pew Research Center study, one in four immigrants in the U.S. from Bangladesh and Nepal and one in three immigrants from Bhutan already live in poverty. This new rule would put all of these individuals at great risk. The term “public charge” predates federal immigration law entirely. In the early 1800’s states would only free individual slaves on the condition that they never become a “public charge.” This framework is now being expanded to criminalize immigrant communities.
“This policy is about who this Administration considers a desirable immigrant. It is designed to instill fear in immigrant communities of color and relegate non-citizens and their families to second-class status. It will punish immigrants who rightfully access the public benefits to which they are entitled, it will punish parents for taking care of their children, and it will force immigrant families to choose between citizenship and basic needs. Rather than taxing the 1%, this Administration chooses to punish immigrant families over and over again. Today, on the one-year anniversary of Muslim Ban 3.0, we say no to more racist and anti-immigrant policies,” said Suman Raghunathan, Executive Director of SAALT.
Once the rule is officially published in the Federal Register, the public will have 60 days to comment on the proposed rule before the Department of Homeland Security proceeds with final rulemaking. Stay tuned for SAALT’s campaign to channel public comments to the federal government opposing this discriminatory proposal.
CONTACT: Sophia Qureshi, sophia@saalt.org

Young Leaders Institute (YLI)

SAALT’s Young Leaders Institute (YLI) is an opportunity for undergraduate students and other young adults to build leadership skills, connect with activists and mentors, and explore social change strategies around issues that affect South Asian and immigrant communities in the U.S. The 2018-2019 YLI cohort will identify strategies and craft projects to support those highly impacted at their academic institutions and/or local South Asian communities. We encourage projects that center and uplift caste oppressed, undocumented, working class and poor, Muslim, and Sikh groups. All projects should also incorporate a civic engagement and social media component.