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


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,