As Public Charge Rule Allowed to Take Effect, Congress Must Act Now to Protect Immigrant Communities, Says Immigrant Legal Resource Center

For Immediate Release: January 27, 2020
Contact: Marie McIntosh,

As Public Charge Rule Allowed to Take Effect, Congress Must Act Now to Protect Immigrant Communities, Says Immigrant Legal Resource Center

Today, the Supreme Court lifted a nationwide injunction and allowed one of the Trump administration’s new policies targeting low-income immigrants to go into effect. The Supreme Court’s decision allows the Department of Homeland Security’s “public charge” rule to go into effect across the nation, except for in the state of Illinois where a state-wide injunction remains in place. This rule sets new criteria by which immigration officers can screen out applicants for a green card--those seeking legal permanent residence--allowing officers to consider a wide range of factors that penalize low-income families to determine whether it is likely that a person might need certain government assistance in the future. This rule amplifies fear and confusion in our communities, leaving families unsure what programs and benefits they can access without penalty.

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

“The injunction lifted by the Supreme Court today was the only thing preventing a cruel policy from going into effect--a policy that intentionally creates fear among low-income immigrants from using services and programs for which they qualify. The chilling effect of this rule is greater than it’s legal reach--using confusion and rhetoric to deter families from getting the care and resources they need to stay healthy and thrive. Make no mistake, this is an attack on the legal immigration process and the American dream by the Trump Administration. 

“Most immigrants and their families are not affected by this rule. It is essential for immigrant communities to know: Many immigrant families are still eligible for the services and benefits they need and are legally entitled to receive. We’re calling on Congress to take immediate action--implement legislation that makes it clear to the administration that a century-long interpretation of enacted law should not be reversed through agency action, especially not to establish wealth tests that carry out an anti-immigrant agenda.”

The ILRC joined other advocacy groups in submitting comments opposing the rule change in the fall of 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. 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 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 Marie McIntosh or 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.