Fact Sheet: The Public Charge Rule Harms Children (Updated)

Children of Immigrants
Health
Housing & Homelessness
Nutrition
Poverty & Family Economics
Racial Equity

The strength of our country’s economic future is dependent on the wellbeing of our children, who make up our future workforce and tax base. Children of immigrants are the fastest-growing group of American children, with approximately 1 in 4 children (18 million) living in a family with at least one immigrant parent.

The majority of children of immigrants live in households where both parents are working and employed in essential, but lower-paying jobs that often do not provide access to employer-sponsored health insurance or a pension plan. These conditions diminish the ability of these workers to make critical investments in their children. This reality, combined with skyrocketing rents and the high cost of everyday goods, means that immigrant parents still struggle to make ends meet and turn to key assistance programs to supplement resources for their families.

On October 10, 2018, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) began their attack on these critical benefits by releasing a rule for public comment proposing changes to long-standing, bipartisan immigration policy known as “public charge.” The rule allows government officials to consider the use of an applicant’s broad range of services such as Medicaid, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and housing assistance when determining eligibility for green cards or lawful admission to the U.S. On August 14, 2019, after reviewing more than 260,000 public comments on the rule, DHS published a final regulation with slight changes from the proposed version.

The rule, which was initially set to take effect on October 15, 2019, was initially held up by court challenges and a nationwide injunction. However, the Supreme Court ruled on January 24, 2020 to set aside the nationwide injunction and let the rule move forward (This does not include Illinois, which has a statewide injunction). Thus, on February 24, 2020, the United States Customs and Immigration Services (USCIS) is set to begin enforcing the expanded public charge rule on those seeking admission to the U.S. or applying for Legal Permanent Resident (LPR) status. It is important to note, however, that the Supreme Court only set aside a preliminary injunction, and there is ongoing litigation to determine the rule’s legality.

View the fact sheet.

Download Attachments