Skip to Content
December 9, 2019

Only Wealthy Immigrants Need Apply: The Chilling Effects of “Public Charge”

A co-release from The Commonwealth Institute for Fiscal Analysis and the Fiscal Policy Institute

In August 2019, the Department of Homeland Security published a final rule on the “public charge” ground of inadmissibility for immigrants whose application for a green card is processed in the United States. The rule applies a similar test to people seeking to extend or change their temporary status (such as student or employment visas) in the United States. Although scheduled to go into effect on October 15, the rule has been blocked temporarily by several federal courts.

If the new public charge rule goes into effect, it will make it much more difficult for families with low and moderate incomes to make their lives in the United States if they are considered likely to use public benefits such as nutrition, housing and health care programs for which they may legally qualify. The Trump Administration’s version of the rule takes such a drastic view of what constitutes a benefit that if it were applied to the U.S.-born population — Americans who are not immigrants — roughly half might not be deemed acceptable to stay in the United States.

This new public charge rule “is repugnant to the American Dream of the opportunity for prosperity and success through hard work and upward mobility.”

U.S. District Court Judge George B. Daniels

Our report, co-released with the Fiscal Policy Institute and linked below, estimates that if the rule were to go into effect, 355,000 people in Virginia would experience a chilling effect.

The Commonwealth Institute

Back to top