Community Guide on “Public Charge”

On January 27th, 2020 the Supreme Court temporarily lifted nationwide court orders that kept the Trump Administration’s proposed “public charge” regulation from taking effect.  This inherently discriminatory regulation can now go into effect nationwide in all states except Illinois, where a statewide injunction blocks it.

The “public charge” regulation 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.

Details on exactly how this regulation will be implemented have not yet been revealed.  However, those most directly impacted by the regulation will be lower income immigrants of color, including 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.

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