Child Health

Children and Families Threatened by Trump Administration’s Proposed Change to Public Charge Rule

For Immediate Release: Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Media Contact:

Emily Gardner, Communications Director

Drastic changes to longstanding immigration rule would put millions of children at greater risk of hunger, illness and poverty

Today, the Trump Administration published in the Federal Register a proposed change to the “public charge” rule that has the potential to plunge millions of immigrant children and families into poverty, hunger and homelessness. The unprecedented change would allow the Department of Homeland Security to deny green cards and visas to immigrants who use public benefits from an expanded list of programs, including non-emergency Medicaid, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), housing assistance, and the Medicare Part D low income subsidy.

Nearly 1 in 4 children in America has at least one immigrant parent. By making legal use of safety net programs a “heavily weighted” factor in determining whether an individual qualifies as a “public charge,” this proposed change could result in millions of eligible children going without food assistance, health coverage, safe housing and more. Millions of immigrants will be subject to the expanded definition of public charge that could bar them from legal paths to citizenship, which is likely to cause both immigrants and their family members to forego critical benefits for fear of the consequences.

“The change proposed today by the Trump Administration is unjust, immoral, un-American and downright shameful,” said Marian Wright Edelman, president of the Children’s Defense Fund. “America is a nation of immigrants, and yet this administration threatens to shut down legal paths to citizenship for families that use the safety net programs they depend on – and are entitled to – to feed their children, take them to the doctor and keep a roof over their heads. We must stand together and in a unified voice reject this drastic change to the public charge and demand an end to the cruel immigration policies of this administration, which continue to victimize children each and every day.”


The Children’s Defense Fund (CDF) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit child advocacy organization that has worked relentlessly for more than 40 years to ensure a level playing field for all children.

The Children’s Defense Fund Leave No Child Behind® mission is to ensure every child a Healthy Start, a Head Start, a Fair Start, a Safe Start and a Moral Start in life and successful passage to adulthood with the help of caring families and communities.

CDF provides a strong, effective and independent voice for all the children of America who cannot vote, lobby or speak for themselves. We pay particular attention to the needs of poor children, children of color and those with disabilities. CDF educates the nation about the needs of children and encourages preventive investments before they get sick, drop out of school, get into trouble or suffer family breakdown.