Trump Administration Proposes 'Public Charge' Rule for Green Cards

On Saturday, Trump administration officials announced on the Department of Homeland Security website that immigrants who legally use public benefits, including Section 8 housing vouchers, could be denied green cards under new rules titled, “Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds.”

Federal law has always required green card applicants to prove that they will not be a burden, but the government has never before considered the use of other public benefits in that determination.  The proposed new rules will require immigration officials to consider the use of public benefits to be “heavily weighted negative factors” to admission on a permanent basis.

The Department of Homeland Security, in a press release said that these rules would “ensure that those seeking to enter and remain in the United States either temporarily or permanently can support themselves financially and will not be reliant on public benefits.” The new rule would not apply to refugees, asylum seekers, or to legal immigrants who serve in the military. According to a Kaiser Family Foundation report, nearly 20 million children in immigrant families could be affected by this policy change.

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker’s administration said they will “formally oppose” the rule change.  A spokesman for the Governor told State House News Service, “The Baker-Polito Administration values the immigrant community’s role in making Massachusetts a vibrant and competitive commonwealth and the Administration believes this proposed rule change would result in individuals not accessing basic needs like food assistance or medical care for them or their family…”

At this time, this proposed rule is not in effect and does not affect your eligibility for benefits. The 447-page proposed rule must go through a public review and comment process before it becomes final. Members of the public will have 60 days to comment once the rule is posted to the Federal Register.