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"Public Charge" Changes Underway

Presently, at a county level, discussion is underway about President Trump’s proposed “public charge” rule. Since many of the families served by 4Cs are undocumented, they receive one or more public benefits: 


* CalWORKs (for parents)

* CalFresh

* Medi-Cal 

* Housing 

* Other government-funded public assistance programs 


“Public charges” are non-citizens determined by the federal government to primarily depend on the government for subsistence. If one is determined to be a public charge, one may be denied a green card or lawful admission into the United States. This status does not apply to naturalized citizens, current green card-holders under most circumstances, refugees, or granted asylum seekers. 


Under Trump, the definition of public charge may soon be expanded to include non-citizens who use the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP/CalFresh), non-emergency Medicaid/Medi-Cal, and housing assistance. Even non-citizens who receive minimal amounts of these benefits (or apply for them) can be subject to green card denial, visa change denial, or admission denial. Moreover, only those seeking benefits have the chance to attain them; their families will not be included. 


For now, the rule has yet to take effect, but it is wise to be aware of potential forthcoming changes. If and when the rule does become final, people classified as public charges would have just 60 days to adjust accordingly.  


Those who are concerned about potential impacts are strongly advised to contact an immigration attorney to stay up-to-date and, if needed, to prepare. 


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