“Chilling effect” already evident in falling insurance rates, other programs

The Trump Administration’s decision to reimpose its public charge rule — even as the country reels from dual public health and economic crises — endangers the immediate health and well-being of millions of children.

“The public charge rule deliberately targets children, counting the mere act of being young as a negative,” said Bruce Lesley, president of First Focus on Children. “All these months, just the threat of the rule has caused a chilling effect that has scared thousands of children off health insurance, food assistance, and other life-sustaining programs. The idea that you would rob children of food and health care in the middle of a pandemic — and a recession — is nothing short of mind-boggling. Children have never needed these services more. Congress must immediately block funding for this cruel, morally reprehensible, and frankly, dangerous, rule.”

Data recently released by the U.S. Census Bureau show that the number of U.S. children without health insurance rose for the third year in a row, hitting 5.7% in 2019, and that Hispanic children registered the greatest loss of insurance by far: the uninsured rate among Hispanic children rose a full percentage point to 9.2%, the highest among any race or ethnic group. The threat of the public charge rule likely played a role in this 12% increase over 2018. 

The loss of health insurance by Hispanic children is especially alarming when considered alongside the fact Hispanic men and women make up a disproportionately large share of essential workers. Hispanic people make up 18% of the U.S. population, but account for 21% of all essential workers

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. 

For more information on how the public charge rule specifically harms children, please see our fact sheet.