The American Family Therapy Academy (AFTA) urges the Department of Homeland Security to immediately withdraw the proposed "public charge" rule. This harmful policy will harm millions of immigrants and their families by undermining their access to essential health, nutrition, and shelter.

By moving forward with this ruling we will affect millions of families in the following ways:

  1. Millions of children’s health and development is harmed when their families’ safe housing, adequate health care, and economic security is threatened. “One in four U.S. children has at least one parent born outside the U.S. The vast majority (88 percent) of these children are U.S.-born citizens.”i
  2. Older adults’ health is jeopardized as well as their future in this country.ii
  3. Health of millions who receive critical care through programs like Medicaid is threatened.ii
  4. People with disabilities and with pre-existing conditions, will be cut off from programs and services they need while creating a system that heavily favors the wealthy.ii
  5. Millions of immigrant families and their children will face toxic stress which can lead to physical and mental health problems. Lack of food, unstable housing, economic insecurity, and fear are conditions that can lead to toxic stress.
  6. Decreased participation among immigrant families in food assistance could lead to higher levels of poverty and food insecurity.i
  7. The “financial security of hospitals and local economies” is negatively impactedi. When families fear participating in Medicaid, it affects the funding source for health care providers. Consequently, communities’ wellbeing is impacted deleteriously. Communities can get sicker as its capacities to take care of its vulnerable population is negatively impacted.

“This proposed rule change expands the definition of public charge to include additional benefits under the public charge umbrella and changes the totality of circumstances test with new detailed negative factors that make it harder for low- and moderate-income people to pass.” iii

  • “The proposed rule assigns a negative weight to many factors in this test that have never been relevant in a public charge determination, including being a child or a senior or not speaking English.
  • The rule also counts as a negative factor if the applicant has bad credit, assets and resources below 125 percent of the federal poverty guideline or has received immigration fee waivers.
  • The rule counts as heavily weighed negative factors current receipt of one or more public benefits or receipt of public benefits within 36 months prior to filing an immigration application.
  • The only heavily weighed positive factor is whether an immigrant has financial assets, resources, support, or annual income of at least 250 of the federal poverty guidelines.”iii

The proposed “public charge” rule sends the message that people who are older, people with disabilities, and people with pre-existing conditions are not welcome in the U.S. It is not inclusive based on the proposed factors it weighs as negative for the totality of circumstances test. Rather, it is promoting inequality which is not what the U.S. stands for. It is discriminatory based on age, ability, spoken language, and income.

AFTA strongly opposes the inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds regulation. The proposed rule threatens our communities by inducing fear and increasing the instability faced by our immigrant families and their children.  If enacted, it puts the health and wellbeing of millions of families and children at risk, and denies family members lawful permanent residence for attempting to meet their family’s basic needs.

As an organization made up of those committed to serving families, AFTA calls on the administration to put a stop to the heartless changes to the “public charge” rule

Dated: November 25, 2018

                                                        

CITATIONS i https://www.clasp.org 

ii https://protectingimmigrantfamilies.org/ iii NASW Advocacy