The Department of Homeland Security announced on Sept. 22 that immigrants who apply for public assistance, including food and housing programs, could be denied a green card. The proposed regulation would broaden the scope of individuals who would be considered a “public charge,” or those dependent on what is currently a narrow set of public benefits. Under the proposed change, the definition of “public charge” would expand to encompass a wider range of assistance programs.

The New York Immigration Coalition held a press conference the morning of Sept. 24, during which advocates and service providers spoke of the possible consequences of the move while emphasizing that the proposal has not yet gone into effect.

“What we’re afraid of is that people will be afraid to seek care at the primary level and then our emergency centers will be overcrowded with people who are very sick and at later stages of their illness.” – Jill Furillo of the NY State Nurses Association— New York Immigration Coalition (@thenyic) September 24, 2018

“If people don’t have access to regular food support, they’re stuck every day trying to figure out how to augment their food supply. This is a public health disaster, and it’s immoral.” – Lisa David of @wearephsny— New York Immigration Coalition (@thenyic) September 24, 2018

See more from the press conference on their Twitter page. NYIC is also holding a rally at the corner of Orchard and Delancey streets at 5:30 p.m. in protest of the proposal.

Writing in Long Island Wins, Patrick Young noted some key points:

  • This is only a proposed rule, it is not in effect. There is no reason for anyone to stop receiving public assistance right now.
  • Even if and when it becomes a final rule, people will still have 60 days to drop their benefits, if they choose to.
  • This only affects those who are likely to apply for permanent residence in the future. If someone is already a permanent resident, it will have no impact on that person.

María Peña reports in El Diario on the response on Sept. 23 from immigrant advocacy groups from across the country who said they would consider taking legal action to stop the proposal. Continue reading

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