Congress Must Block Public Charge Policies that Harm Immigrant Families and Communities, Says Immigrant Legal Resource Center

For Immediate Release: August 12, 2019
Contact: Arianna Rosales,

Congress Must Block Public Charge Policies that Harm Immigrant Families and Communities, Says Immigrant Legal Resource Center

Today, the Trump administration finalized a rule which will severely undermine the health of our communities by dramatically expanding how the use of critical health programs and services to meet basic living requirements--like food and shelter--may affect an individual’s eligibility for a green card or admission to the United States. As stated in the new rule, a person may be denied admission to the United States, lawful permanent resident (LPR) status, or a visa extension on “public charge” grounds if they use certain health, nutrition, and housing programs for which they are eligible.   

These drastic changes to how public charge is evaluated in the immigration system will have sweeping implications for how immigrant families access health care in the United States, discouraging millions of eligible individuals from receiving medical attention, while exacerbating child poverty, hunger and homelessness. 

Said Erin Quinn, Senior Staff Attorney at the Immigrant Legal Resource Center:

“The new public charge rule change is yet one more piece of the Trump administration's campaign of fear. While many immigrant families will remain eligible for needed services and not legally impacted by this change, the chilling effect of this rule will cause many families to disenroll children and eligible individuals from critical healthcare coverage and services. This administration is effectively targeting the most vulnerable in an effort to limit the promise of America to only the most affluent. The rule will force immigrants to choose between receiving support to cover their family’s basic needs or endangering their very ability to remain in the country. 

“Everyone benefits from healthy communities and we should be protecting this already-underserved population, not threatening their ability to live legally in this country if they access the few assurances of health and safety available to them. Members of Congress must speak out about the cruelty of the new public charge rule and co-sponsor H.R. 3222, the No Federal Funds for Public Charge Act to prevent federal funds from being used to carry out this misguided policy.

The ILRC joined other advocacy groups in submitting comments opposing the rule change in Fall 2018. We will continue to work with immigrants and their families to ensure they do not forego critical benefits and services for which they are eligible. Importantly, many immigrant families eligible for safety net programs remain eligible and should be unaffected by this rule. Immigrant families should consult with an immigration law expert about the possibility that there are no immigration consequences of their accessing health and benefits programs before making important decisions about the health and well-being of their families.

For more information on public charge, please visit: For interviews with experts at the ILRC, please contact Arianna Rosales at


The Immigrant Legal Resource Center (ILRC) is a national nonprofit that works with immigrants, community organizations, legal professionals, and policy makers to build a democratic society that values diversity and the rights of all people. Through community education programs, legal training & technical assistance, and policy development & advocacy, the ILRC works to protect and defend the fundamental rights of immigrant families and communities.