Child Welfare

Proposed Public Charge Rule Change Hurts Minnesota Children and Families

September 24, 2018

The Trump administration issued a harmful proposed new rule on Saturday that puts at risk immigrants across the nation and in Minnesota by impeding their ability to access critical work and basic needs supports if they desire to seek permanent lawful immigration status. The proposed change would expand the definition of “public charge” to restrict non-cash benefits like Medicaid, food assistance, and public housing – benefits their citizen children may be eligible to access to make sure they can get health care, nutritious food and their other basic needs. The current definition restricts certain potential immigrants from entering the U.S. or gaining lawful permanent residency if it’s determined that they would likely become a “public charge,” or someone who relies on government assistance. Currently, only cash assistance and certain long-term care programs are considered when making a public charge determination.

The new rule would also negatively affect the broader community and economy due to the long-term effects on the child outcomes when their basic needs aren’t met, as well as the loss in economic stimulus that happens when eligible families don’t access work support programs. The rule change, consistent with other recent attacks on immigrants here in the U.S., has a chilling effect on all immigrant communities, hundreds of thousands of citizen families and even those who have already obtained permanent residency who wouldn’t even be affected by the rule, by instilling fear and inhibiting them from accessing the services for which they’re eligible that promote positive child outcomes through work and basic needs support.

“This harmful proposed rule to expand the possible qualifications to be deemed a public charge is shameful and hurts children by taking food out of their mouths, preventing them from accessing health care, and threatening their development. There is no way to target individual immigrants without hurting children, families and communities. Hurting parents hurts children. Hurting families hurts communities,” said Bharti Wahi, Children’s Defense Fund-Minnesota’s Executive Director. “This change will be detrimental in Minnesota especially where we have a vibrant immigrant population that contributes significantly to our economy and community, contributions that should define them in this country. Immigrant families want what’s best for their children, like we all do. Whether it is the shameful policy of family separation at the border, the ending of DACA and now this rule change, the administration demonstrates time and again malicious callousness toward immigrant children. The anti-immigrant rhetoric and policies coming out of Washington don’t reflect Minnesota values and we must speak out against them on behalf of our children.”

For more information about who the proposed public charge rule affects and the benefits all eligible immigrant children and families should continue access, refer to this information on CDF-MN’s Bridge to Benefits website.