Katie Kurutz-Ulloa | First 5 LA Communications Specialist

October 20, 2019

After leaked language and several months of speculation, the Trump Administration announced in October of last year its intent to take into consideration a family’s use of “public benefits” when applying for a green card. The rule, which came to be known as the “public charge rule,” would limit or deny permanent residency to any applicant who, at any point, relied on certain government programs like Medicaid (excluding emergency and disability services related to education), Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), or housing benefits.

According to then-Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen, the proposed rule would “promote immigrant self-sufficiency and protect finite resources by ensuring that [immigrants] are not likely to become burdens on American taxpayers.”

Many, including First 5 LA, disagreed with Nielsen however, and spoke out against the proposed rule, anticipating it would force parents to choose between supporting their families’ well-being or seeking residency status that could lead to citizenship. Several opinion pieces raged, claiming it would create a “looming public health crisis” and accused the Trump Administration of “turning the safety net into a trap.”

First 5 LA Executive Director Kim Belshé said this about the proposal: “All families have a right to engage with the public systems that exist to serve their health, education and caregiving needs without fear of judgment or reprisals. With nearly one in four children nationwide having at least one immigrant parent, this proposed rule change will hurt, instead of help, millions of kids. There is a shared responsibility and a shared benefit from improving the health and well-being of all young children.”

In accordance with the law, the draft rule was published in the Federal Register for public comment in October and was open for 60 days until Dec. 10, 2018. The Administration received more than 260,000 comments, including from First 5 LA, many of which were in opposition to the proposed rule.

Building a case for the opposition, The Urban Institute, a bipartisan research organization, released an analysis right before the comment period closed, cautioning that given the number of American children living with one or more noncitizen parents, the public charge rule could cause a mass disenrollment from vital children’s programs. Another study, focused on California, forecasted a huge economic blow to the state if the proposed rule took effect.

Due to the high volume of feedback received, the Trump Administration took several months to review public comments (although a later lawsuit accused the Administration of failing to seriously consider the comments) and did not publish final language until August. During that interim time, The Urban Institute released a second analysis that provides the first systematic evidence that the chilling effect has already taken hold, citing that one in seven adults in immigrant families dropped out of social safety net programs out of fear.

The final public charge rule language was published in August, and with it a plan to be enacted by October 15, 2019. When pressured by the press on the ethics of the rule, Ken Cuccinelli, the acting director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, twisted the famous words on the Statue of Liberty, and stated: “Give me your tired and your poor who can stand on their own two feet and who will not become a public charge.”

California, alongside others, immediately filed a lawsuit against the rule. However the back-and-forth sowed chaos and confusion among immigrants who were unsure whether to disenroll from safety net programs, or which programs were even included in the rule. To help quell the panic, the “Protecting Immigrant Families” campaign, co-chaired by the National Immigrant Law Center and the Center for Law and Social Policy, outlined what the ruling could mean and the status of the pending lawsuits.WIC also issued a press release clarifying that they were not subject to the rule.

Multiple federal courts blocked the rule in early October, with one judge declaring it “repugnant to the American Dream.” The rule is temporarily blocked, pending further litigation, as it was scheduled to go into effect on October 15. To keep our readers informed of the extensive reporting on this topic, we have compiled a library of media coverage and reports below.

Public Charge Reporting

Initial Introduction

Politico: Immigrants may be denied green cards if they’ve received benefits
The regulation could force millions of low-income families to choose between government assistance and permanent settlement in the U.S. (Hesson, Cook, Evich & Restuccia, 9/22/18)
Also featured in The Los Angeles Times (Hennessy-Fiske, 9/23/18), The Washington Post (Miroff, 9/22/18)

Think Progress: Trump’s dramatic new plan to label immigrants a ‘public charge,’ explained

The White House continues its crackdown on documented immigration — this time, denying residency status to those who rely on public benefits. (Crunden & Gomez, 9/23/18)

Politico: Trump bets on public charge

The Trump administration rolled out its controversial “public charge” proposed rule on Saturday evening following an inquiry from POLITICO, which had obtained detailed information about the latest version. (Hesson, 9/24/18)

The New Yorker: Trump’s Public-Charge Rule Is a One-Two Punch Against Immigrants and Public Assistance

This August, when it was time to renew her daughter’s food stamps, Arelii decided against it. She had heard rumors, on television and on Facebook, that the President had a new plan to punish immigrants who were receiving public benefits. (Blitzer, 9/28/18)

Public Comment Window Closed

Fresno Bee: Valley immigration groups make last push against proposed Trump public charge rule

Some Valley immigrant rights organizations are making a last push this week to remind the public time’s running out to voice their opinion on a controversial Trump administration proposal that would make it more difficult for people to obtain legal residency. (Amaro, 12/6/18)

Vox: Trump’s controversial “public charge” proposal that could change the face of legal immigration, explained

A proposed DHS regulation that could seriously restrict low-income immigrants has received over 150,000 comments. (Lind, 12/10/18)

Final Version Published

NPR: Trump Administration Rule Would Penalize Immigrants For Needing Benefits

The final version of the “public charge” rule, which has been a top priority for immigration hard-liners in the White House, is set to be published in the Federal Register on Wednesday. (Fessler, 8/12/19)

The Los Angeles Times: New Trump rules could deny green cards to immigrants on public assistance

The Trump administration took one of its most aggressive steps yet on Monday to target legal immigration, publishing new rules that could deny green cards to immigrants who use Medicaid, food stamps, housing vouchers or other forms of public assistance, and potentially making it more difficult for some to get legal status in the U.S. (O’Toole & McDonnell & del Rio, 8/12/19)

LAist: New Trump Rule Targets Poorer Immigrants Who Use Public Benefits. Here’s What To Expect In California

On Monday the Trump administration unveiled its final version of a rule that seeks to disqualify immigrants from permanent legal status if they use certain public benefits. (Rojas, 8/12/19)

CBS News: New Trump administration rule cracks down on welfare benefits use by legal immigrants

The Trump administration rolled out a key item in its hardline immigration agenda that had been months in the making, issuing a sweeping rule on Monday that targets legal immigrants who use welfare benefits like food stamps and government-subsidized housing. (Montoya-Galvez, 8/12/19)

The New York Times: Trump Policy Favors Wealthier Immigrants for Green Cards

President Trump on Monday broadened his assault on the nation’s immigration system, issuing a new rule targeting legal immigrants who want to remain in the United States but whose lack of financial resources is judged likely to make them a burden on taxpayers. (Shear & Sullivan, 8/12/19)

The Hill: Trump administration releases new ‘public charge’ rule making it easier to reject immigrants

The Trump administration on Monday released the final version of a controversial rule that dramatically increases the government’s ability to reject green cards for people who are deemed likely to depend on government aid such as food stamps, housing assistance and Medicaid. (Rodrigo, 8/12/19)

Modern Healthcare: Trump finalizes rule penalizing legal immigrants for using Medicaid, SNAP

Legal immigrants will jeopardize their legal status in the U.S. if they use government benefits like Medicaid under a controversial rule finalized by the Trump administration Monday. (Meyer, 8/12/19)

Bloomberg: Trump Takes Aim at Legal Immigration With Reviews on Public Aid

The Trump administration on Monday continued its crackdown on immigration with a new rule that could block immigrants from getting green cards if they’ve used government benefits or are found likely to use them. (Sink & Ross, 8/12/19)

NPR: Immigration Chief: ‘Give Me Your Tired, Your Poor Who Can Stand On Their Own 2 Feet’

“Give me your tired and your poor who can stand on their own two feet and who will not become a public charge,” Ken Cuccinelli, the acting director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, said Tuesday, twisting Emma Lazarus’ famous words on a bronze plaque at the Statue of Liberty. (Ingber, 8/13/19)

The Washington Post: ‘Who can stand on their own two feet’: Ken Cuccinelli edits famous Statue of Liberty poem

Ken Cuccinelli, acting director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, said Tuesday that the poem etched on the Statue of Liberty welcoming immigrants to America should include a line qualifying that they be able to “stand on their own two feet.” (Itkowitz & Sonmez, 10/13/19)

Ed Source: Federal government to restrict green cards for immigrants who could use food stamps or other aid in future

Low-income immigrants will not be able to get green cards if government officials believe they might use food stamps, public health insurance or public housing in the future, after a new rule goes into effect in October. (Stavely, 8/13/19)

The Washington Post: How President Trump’s new immigration rule could erode the social safety net
The new rule significantly expands the meaning of public charge. (Bhaman, 8/14/19)

Fortune: A New Trump Rule Could Deny Poor Legal Immigrants Green Cards. Here’s What You Should Know
The regulation takes an existing law, the “public charge” rule, and expands the definition. The existing rule prevents any immigrant who is “likely at any time to become a public charge” from entering the U.S., renewing a visa or obtaining a green card. (Bach, 8/14/19)

Capital Public Radio: New ‘Public Charge’ Rule Targets Immigrant Use Of Health And Nutrition Services
The Trump administration’s new immigration rule has provided the federal government with expansive new grounds to bar people from receiving green cards for accessing public services such as Medi-Cal and food stamps. (Garcia, 8/23/19)

Impact/Chilling Effect

Pacific Standard: A New Trump Administration Rule on Public Benefits Could Discriminate Against Immigrant Families

An immigration law expert explains why a proposed “public charge” rule is fostering an environment of fear. (Moon, 9/25/18)

Education Week: Advocates Fear Immigrant Families Could Shun Benefits Under Proposed Trump Rule

“We heard directly from parents as well as providers that parents were opting to play it safe and avoid use of public programs out of fear of possibly compromising their immigration status down the road,” Cervantes said. (9/24/18)

California Health Report: Researchers Warn that “Public Charge” Rule Changes Would Lead to Hardship, Economic Losses in California

The Trump administration’s proposed changes to public charge rules for deciding immigration cases could push thousands of Californians out of government assistance programs and result in billions of dollars of losses to the state’s economy. (11/8/18)

EdSource: Trump’s proposed regulations limiting benefits for immigrants could hurt many US-born children

Hundreds of thousands of immigrant parents in California may disenroll their children from health insurance, food stamps and other federally subsidized programs because they fear that receiving these benefits will make it impossible for them to become permanent residents in the United States. (Stavely, 11/14/18)

California Health Report: Public Charge Rule Threatens Health of California’s Children, Report Says

A proposal by the Trump administration to weigh immigrants’ use of certain public programs when deciding whether to approve applications for permanent residency threatens the health of hundreds of thousands of California children, according to a new report. (Boyd-Barrett, 11/15/18)

The Los Angeles Times: Number of uninsured children climbs, reversing more than a decade of progress, report finds

The number of children in the United States without health insurance increased last year for the first time in more than a decade, according to a new report that highlights potentially worrisome backsliding in pediatric care. (Levey, 11/28/18)

Public Radio International: Proposed ‘public charge’ rule change stirs confusion over green card eligibility

Hundreds of thousands of immigrant parents in California may disenroll their children from health insurance, food stamps and other federally subsidized programs because they fear that receiving these benefits will make it impossible for them to become permanent residents in the United States. (11/29/18)

Center for Health Journalism: L.A. clinic says immigrants scared to get care after ‘public charge’ controversy

Monday marks the end of the Department of Homeland Security’s 60-day public comment period for the proposed policy change. (Abram, 12/10/18)

The Los Angeles Times: U.S. move to restrict immigrants’ healthcare access would hit California’s economy, study says

Rules that could give immigrants reason to avoid enrolling in health safety net programs would deliver a blow to California’s economy, costing the state thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in economic output, a new study concluded. (Bhuiyan, 12/7/18)

Newsweek: Trump’s ‘Public Charge’ Rule Left One in Seven Immigrant Families Too Afraid to Apply for Benefits ‘Out of Fear of Risking Future Green Card Status’: Study

The Trump administration’s plan to consider immigrants’ use of certain benefit programs as a “negative factor” when considering green card or temporary visa applications has already had a “chilling effect” on immigrant families in the U.S., a new study found. (Da Silva, 5/22/19)

CBS News: Immigrants are avoiding food, medical benefits because of proposed Trump rule

A study by the Urban Institute found that more than 13% of adults in immigrant families said they were not participating in public programs. (Montoya-Galvez, 5/22/19)

CNN: Trump’s immigration proposal could cause millions of children to opt out of health benefits, study says

Fear around the proposed change to the definition of “public charge” also could put the medical and nutritional needs of millions of children at risk, according to a new study. (Howard, 7/1/19)

Pacific Standard: Millions of Kids Could Lose Health Insurance and Food Assistance Under Trump’s Public Charge Rule
A new study estimates that as many as 8.3 million kids are at risk of losing their benefits. (Moon, 7/1/19)

California Health Report: As Families Drop Health Benefits Over ‘Public Charge’ Rule, Clinics Scramble to Respond

Soon after news broke last week of the Trump administration’s finalized “public charge” rule, benefit enrollers at the Eisner Health community clinic in downtown Los Angeles started getting phone calls. (Boyd-Barrett, 8/19/19)

CalMatters: Immigrants afraid of Trump’s ‘public charge’ rule are dropping food stamps, Medi-Cal
A looming change in what is known as the “public charge” rule is sowing confusion and fear within the immigrant community, causing many people to abandon programs they need for fear of retaliation from immigration authorities. (Hellerstein, 9/22/19)



The Los Angeles Times: California sues Trump over ‘public charge’ rule denying green cards to immigrants

California on Friday sued the Trump administration to challenge the legality of a new “public charge” rule that could deny green cards to immigrants who receive public assistance, including food stamps, Medicaid and housing vouchers. (McGreevy, 8/16/19)
Also featured in PBS News Hour (Thompson, 8/16/19), The Washington Post (Sacchetti, 8/16/19)

The New York Times: Judges Strike Several Blows to Trump Immigration Policies

Judges in three states ruled against a policy that would withhold green cards to immigrants who receive public assistance such as Medicaid. Another judge ruled on border wall funding. (Jordan, 10/11/19)

USA Today: Federal judge blocks Trump administration ‘public charge’ rule targeting poor immigrants

A federal judge blocked Friday a Trump administration rule that was scheduled to take effect next week that would have denied permanent legal residence to low-income immigrants living in the United States. (Gomez, 10/11/19)

Reuters: Judge blocks Trump immigration rule, calls it ‘repugnant to American Dream’

A U.S. federal judge in New York on Friday temporarily blocked a Trump administration rule that would deny residency to aspiring immigrants deemed likely to require government assistance, calling it “repugnant to the American Dream.” (Trotta, 10/11/19)

U.S. News & World Report: Federal Judges Block Trump Policy Targeting Legal Immigrants on Public Benefits

The rule, which gives the government power to deny visas to immigrants who use or who may use public benefits, was set to go into effect Tuesday. (Hansen, 10/11/19)

CBS News: Courts block Trump rule to deny green cards and visas to low-income immigrants

Three federal courts on Friday blocked a sweeping regulation that would’ve made it easier for the Trump administration to reject green card and visa applications filed by low-income immigrants whom the government determines are or might become a burden on U.S. taxpayers. (Montoya-Galvez, 10/15/19)

The San Francisco Chronicle: Californians, stand up for immigrants targeted by ‘public charge’ rule

On Oct. 11, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California temporarily blocked the federal government’s changes to the “public charge” rule, after hearing arguments from the state of California, Santa Clara County and San Francisco, along with health care, legal services and immigrant organizations. (LaPointe & Essel & McKeon & Petsod, 10/23/19)

Public News Service: Immigrants’ Advocates Calm Fears After Public Charge Rules Put on Hold

Immigrants’ rights groups are working to calm fears in the migrant community – after a judge blocked President Donald Trump’s changes to the public charge rules earlier this month. (Potter, 10/25/19)

Opinion Pieces/ Opposition Statements

First 5 LA/Cision: Proposed Change to “Public Charge” Policy Hurts Kids, Say Leading California Early Childhood Advocates

Over the weekend, the Trump Administration released a radical new regulatory proposal that would drive up poverty, hunger, unmet health care needs, and worsen a range of other problems facing communities across the United States. (9/24/18)

The Washington Post: Needy immigrants need not apply

The proposed rule is punitive, mean-spirited and self-defeating. This nation has been built with huge contributions from immigrants who arrived with nothing, needed a hand for a while and eventually prospered. (9/25/18)

The Los Angeles Times: Trump’s anti-immigration ‘public charge’ proposal solves a problem that doesn’t exist

These are unnecessarily strict and hard-hearted rules aimed at solving a problem that social scientists say doesn’t exist. (9/25/18)

The Washington Post: Trump’s latest immigration proposal is a looming public health crisis

Denying access to public needs programs for a significant segment of the population is a looming public-health crisis. (9/27/18)

The New York Times: Trump Wants to Turn the Safety Net Into a Trap

Changing the rules on public assistance for immigrants punishes anyone who needs a little help getting back on their feet. (10/1/18)

AAFP: Academy Objects to Harmful ‘Public Charge’ Rule Change

Proposal could strip critical health services from 10.7 million child citizens. (12/6/18)

The Hill: The public charge rule is another tactic to strike fear among immigrant families

It’s hard to imagine what it would be like to have to choose between putting food on the table to feed your family and protecting your own immigration status. (12/7/18)

The Hill: Public charge provisions hurt citizen children too

This week, The Urban Institute released a powerful new report showing that one-fifth of all children on Medicaid or CHIP (the Children’s Health Insurance Program) are citizens but have noncitizen parents. (Horton & Yarris & Duncan, 12/9/18)

The Washington Post: A proposed new ‘public charge’ rule puts children’s health insurance at risk

Rule seeks to limit legal paths to citizenship but could have spillover effects on citizens. (12/18/18)

Newsweek: 279,000 Physicians: Public Charge Proposal is a Threat to Our Patients’ Health | Opinion

As physicians, our job is to ensure our patients are healthy. We are committed to doing all we can to keep our patients as healthy and safe as possible, whether this means ordering an ultrasound to evaluate a pregnancy, inoculating against a deadly disease or screening for depression. (8/12/19)

First 5 LA: Leading California Early Childhood Advocates Oppose Trump Administration’s “Public Charge” Rule

First 5 Association of California, First 5 California and First 5 LA today joined major California leaders including Gov. Gavin Newsom in opposing the Trump administration’s “public charge” rule expansion, which will allow immigration officials the ability to deny a green card to immigrant applicants if they are in receipt of certain public benefits that are intended to help individuals, families, and communities meet basic living needs. (8/12/19)

AAP News: AAP: New public charge rule threatens health of immigrant children, families

The Academy is decrying a new federal rule that will make it harder for immigrants to obtain a visa or green card if they’ve used public benefits. (8/13/19)

The Los Angeles Times: Editorial: Trump’s callous attack on immigrants who need public aid

The Trump administration is moving — again — to make it more difficult for even legal immigrants to get a foothold in the United States. (8/13/19)

KFI AM 640: L.A County Official Calls Public Charge Rule `Inhumane’ As Others File Suit

A federal proposal to disqualify some immigrants receiving food stamps or Medicaid from gaining entry to the U.S. or obtaining a green card is “inhumane” and “heartless,” a Los Angeles County supervisor said today. (8/13/19)

HealthCare Dive: Hospitals bash immigration rule likely to push millions off Medicaid

The final “public charge” rule from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security would affect immigrants legally on such programs for more than a year. The rule could push between 2 million and 5 million people out of Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program, according to an estimate from the Kaiser Family Foundation. (Muchmore, 8/13/19)

The Washington Post: Trump’s Family Separation 2.0 comes at a cost to immigrants and the government

The Trump administration’s plan to consider immigrants’ use of certain benefit programs as a “negative factor” when considering green card or temporary visa applications has already had a “chilling effect” on immigrant families in the U.S., a new study found. (Editorial Board, 5/21/19)

The Hill: Pediatricians speak out: A ‘public charge rule’ is dangerous for children

By targeting our nation’s residents who access publicly funded programs to provide for these basic needs, the Department of Homeland Security’s final rule on public charge — set to take effect this October — is a direct threat to the health of our most vulnerable neighbors. (Fischer & Banker & Abraham, 9/1/19)

The Los Angeles Times: Trump administration’s ‘public charge’ rule has chilling effect on benefits for immigrants’ children

After a recent Sunday evening Mass, Luz Gallegos stepped up to the pulpit at St. Francis de Sales Catholic Church in Riverside to explain things and calm nerves. (Miller, 9/3/19)

American Medical Association: New “public charge” rule will put immigrants’ health at risk

The Litigation Center of the American Medical Association and State Medical Societies has joined the Washington State Medical Association and several other physician organizations in filing an amicus brief in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Washington. (Henry, 10/23/19)

Newsweek: Trump Is Depriving Immigrant Families of the Life-Saving Food and Health Care That Helped Many Succeed | Opinion

President Donald Trump’s public charge regulation was set to go into effect this month — denying millions of immigrant families the opportunity to realize their full potential in this country by making them afraid of accessing life-saving public programs. (Hincapié, 10/24/19)


Urban Institute: Proposed Public Charge Rule Could Jeopardize Recent Coverage Gains among Citizen Children

On October 10, 2018, the administration proposed a major change to immigration policy through an expanded definition of “public charge.” (Kenney & Haley & Wang, 12/4/18)

Urban Institute: One in Seven Adults in Immigrant Families Reported Avoiding Public Benefit Programs in 2018

Beyond reducing future immigration numbers, there is widespread concern this revised public charge rule would have “chilling effects” on low-income immigrant families by discouraging them from applying for and receiving public benefits for which they are eligible, for fear of risking future green card status. (3/19)

Kaiser Health News: Changes to “Public Charge” Inadmissibility Rule: Implications for Health and Health Coverage

The changes will create new barriers to getting a green card or immigrating to the U.S. and likely lead to decreases in participation in Medicaid and other programs among immigrant families and their primarily U.S.-born children beyond those directly affected by the new policy. (8/12/19)

California Health Care Foundation: The Final Public Charge Rule Is Out. Here’s How It Affects Immigrants

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has finalized significant new restrictions to reduce immigration by creating a preference for wealthy, English-speaking, insured and educated immigrants and putting up new hurdles for impoverished immigrants and their families. (Wynne & Joyce, 8/16/19)

The California Budget and Policy Center: The Trump Administration’s New “Public Charge” Immigration Rule Will Push Thousands of Californians Into Poverty and Hurt the State’s Health and Economy

Aggressive enforcement of immigration laws, actions to reduce the number of immigrants entering the US, and attempts to limit the legal rights of immigrants living in the U.S. have been a signature focus of the Trump Administration. (Kimberlin & Ramos-Yamamoto, 8/19/19)

California Health and Human Services Agency: CHHS Public Charge Guide: CHHS Public Charge Guide

The California Health and Human Services Agency, along with its Departments and Offices, is issuing an updated Public Charge Guide to serve as a resource for individuals with questions about the Federal Government’s new federal public charge policy. This document will be updated periodically. (10/23/19)


CHHS Public Charge Guide

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